Florida's Chinese Drywall Crisis and Indoor Air Quality Concerns

Dry Wall

In light of the recent concern over the presence of Chinese Drywall in a number of homes in Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Colorado, it is a good time for all of us to start thinking about the quality of the air in our homes.

Those of us who live in cities and polluted areas tend to worry about the dirty air outside, however we often overlook the quality of the air indoors. Dust mites, dander, pollen and other contaminants can aggravate allergies and asthma and create general air pollution in the home. While it is common knowledge that carpet, paint and other materials used to build new houses tend to omit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), the discovery that drywall used in homes throughout many states may be emitting sulfur dioxide, is causing a great deal of worry for homeowners concerned about the health of their families and the value of their homes.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, tests have found that the drywall emits sulfur-based gasses which cause sulfurous odors and tend to corrode common metals such as copper (frequently used in heaters, air conditioners and other electrical equipment).

New Rabbit Air customer Alan B., called us in search of relief from the effects of Chinese Drywall in his Florida home. Alan has suffered a scratchy throat which his doctor attributes to sulphur emitted by the drywall. “We purchased an air purifier in hopes that it would help with the discomfort,” says Alan.

Chinese drywall is made with a coal byproduct called fly ash which contains silica and aluminum silica, hazardous only in dust form. Particle filters such as HEPA filters will help to remove these compounds from the air if they become airborne. Fly ash also contains a blend of heavy metals, including mercury and beryllium. These are toxic in dust form and also evaporate slowly to become toxic gasses. Charcoal-based activated arbon, found in the charcoal filters of few HEPA based air purifiers, can effectively adsorb these toxins and also reduce the sulfurous odor in the air.

Those unaffected by Chinese drywall should still be aware of the toxins in their own homes. Volatile organic compounds from paint, paint thinners, toner from printers and copiers, new carpet, and cleaning products can be harmful to the lungs. Second hand smoke is also a reality for those living with smokers.

According to the EPA, “studies found levels of about a dozen common organic pollutants to be 2 to 5 times higher inside homes than outside, regardless of whether the homes were located in rural or highly industrial areas.”

Increasing air circulation in the home and eliminating toxins and harmful particles with a HEPA air purifier can help make the environment in our homes more comfortable while reduce allergy and asthma symptoms.

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