In Hamlet, Marcellus said “Something’s rotten in Denmark”

May 21st, 2009

Many people misquote this by saying “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. In this case, “Something may be rotten in drywall from China”.

Although in the popular Shakespearian play the above quote refers to the local political climate, there is a governmental element to our China quote as well.

Recently the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found suspicious materials in drywall imported from China. The question this author continues to ask is how to we import these products without understanding and testing that they are made with the proper materials. In this case, drywall has been a staple of home building for decades.

It seems to me that there should be a pretty standard formula for producing drywall. One ought to be able to ask a simple set of questions (RFI) as to what raw materials went in to the production of the end product. There should then be a fairly reliable Quality Assurance (QA) process in place to test whether or not the product in fact is manufactured to the proper standards..

In this case, the EPA found two organic compounds in Chinese made drywall that are associated with acrylic paint. The EPA also found higher levels of strontium in the Chinese product. According to Wikipedia strontium is a soft silver-white or yellowish metallic element that is highly reactive chemically.

According to the EPA the boards apparently cause a chemical reaction that gives off a rotten egg stench that gets worse with exposure to heat and humidity and also has a corrosive effect on metal, ( read more about strontium).

This author is pretty sure that many new homes are constructed using metal studs today and most of the wiring in homes is also metal based product.

Four samples of American made products were also tested that did not contain the aforementioned organic compounds.

In this case the total cost of products for as many as 100,000 homes might end up being lower had the products been purchased on shore originally.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

Ron Southard

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