Chinese Drywall - At Least We Don't Eat The Drywall

This is another difficult post to write.  Because of its content.  It is frightful, for which I apologize.

The beat goes on and on regarding the 500 million pounds or so of poisonous Chinese drywall.  It is affecting more and more homes, now estimated at over 100,000, and more and more people, and was apparently used for over four years.  Its damage continues.  If you missed my first two posts on it you can catch up here:

January 29 -- http://activerain.com/blogsview/895160/I-Think-We-Need-To-Recall-China

March 21 -- http://activerain.com/blogsview/994937/Update-Chinese-Drywall-The-Lawyers-Have-Landed

It is a very serious problem.  It has made the mainstream news.  Most recently, AP, 11 April 2009, reports that bills have been "introduced a bill in the House calling for a temporary ban on the Chinese-made imports until more is known about their chemical makeup."  I'm thinking we aren't that smart, but we'll see.  A friend of mine said that the Chinese would probably regard a disruption in America's purchasing of their products as an act of war.  After all, a full 20% of their economy relies on the American consumer.

Why do I say that at least we aren't eating the drywall?  Because we ARE eating other stuff!  The recent epidemic of kidney failure in both humans and animals has prompted medical researchers to find out why.  They did, and the culprit is melamine.

Remember the pet food that was killing animals a short while back?  Melamine.

What is melamine?  It is a chemical which was discovered in 1830.  It is derived from coal, is a white, crystal powder and is two-thirds nitrogen.  It has been used in manufacturing everything from plastics, utensils, laminated flooring, cleaning products, furniture, kitchen cabinets, pesticides, herbicides - well, you name it.  Most recently it has been discovered in food products.  Yes, food products produced in

CHINA.

But why would they put it in food products? Profit - 33% profit and more!  That old Communist staple - profit!  How do they do it?  Many food prices are based on their protein content.  The quick and easy way to measure protein content is by measuring the nitrogen levels in food.  In 1999 the Chinese Academy of Sciences (the CAS), which is funded by the Chinese government, discovered that by adding melamine to foods the nitrogen content is boosted.  Especially dairy products.  They found that they could dilute milk products, add melamine to pick up the nitrogen, and that picks up the profits!  They call it "protein enhanced."  But, is there more protein?  No, that is the fake out.  So, melamine makes things look like they have more protein, when they don't.

It also kills.

To make it viable for food production, melamine is combined with cyanuric acid to form melamine cyanurate.  As this gets absorbed by the blood, it forms yellow crystals which block renal cells.  Enough blockage and the kidneys and bladder malfunction, eventually failing.  Baby formulas use milk products.  Of course babies are very vulnerable to such blockage.  People with weakened kidneys and bladders are at risk also.  Scientists think that long-term exposure to melamine will lead to cancers and reproductive damage.

This is what caused the deaths of so many pets a couple of years ago.  The Chinese got caught because one company, Menu Foods, got so greedy and put so much melamine in their pet foods, that dogs did not suffer gradually but died immediately when they ate the food.  Then the United States FDA discovered melamine in 100 brands that contained wheat products from China, then in pig feed, and poultry feed, then in dehydrated milk, and then in eggs.  All these have been "protein enhanced."  Remember that term!

As I have said in my other two posts, the Chinese are NOT incompetent people.

Could China have test marketed its discovery on Chinese babies?  A reported 50,000 baby illnesses or deaths have been reported (more?) from drinking melamine-tainted milk and formulas.  Hong Kong reported similar problems.  Then there were problems caused by milk and other products in many other nations.  Now in many, many food products.  Melamine has been discovered in fish foods used to feed a variety of fish and shrimp in "farms."  The next time you buy a seafood product, read the label.  If it is "farm-raised," think again before buying it.  Many nations have taken to destroying Chinese food products before it gets into their markets. 

Take the hint!  WISE UP!

Our government has known about the melamine introduction in foods for a long time.  It took pet deaths before the FDA reacted.  Do you think these bills in Congress will go anywhere?  I am not hopeful.  Chinese food products are everywhere, even in foods "produced" in other countries.  The label may say Canada, but they are just putting the product in cans or frozen containers -- the food products come from China.

What should we watch out for?  Wow, what shouldn't we watch out for.  Here is a list I found compiled by Maneka Ghandi, in the Bihar Times.  She admits it is probably a partial list.  But, here 'tis:

Pet foods ** Fish food ** Farmed-raised seafood ** Wheat gluten ** Corn gluten ** Rice protein ** Biscuits ** Over 31 brands of powdered milk including Lipton, Glico, Ritz and Heinz ** DHA+AA baby cereals ** Egg products from Cadbury ** Cadbury dark chocolate eclairs and dairy milk hazelnut chocolates ** Coffee creamers ** White Rabbit Creamy Candy ** Dove chocolate Dreyers cake mix and ice creams ** Dutch Lady candy ** First Choice crackers ** Ritz snacks ** Kraft Oreos  and related products like wafer sticks ** M&M's ** Mars chocolate products ** Magnum ice cream ** Mentos ** bottle yogurts ** Snickers fun size ** Yili Hi-cal milk ** Youcan sesame sticks ** Instant coffees ** Milk teas - like Lipton green milk tea, Unilever Tea ** Nestle chocolates ** 305 Chinese dairy-based products such as coffee creamer, vegetable creamer, and powdered deserts ** bakery products from China such as caramel tarts, cream buns, honey buns, meat buns ** Chinese-made cheesecake ** Eggs from Hanovo Foods and Green Living Beings ** Mr. Brown coffee products

I would have to say, if it is from China, avoid it!  That is a frightful list!  What other foods are so tainted!?

My recommendation:   Read labels carefully!  If a product says "PROTEIN ENHANCED," don't eat it!  If the label says, "Made in China," don't buy it!  The sooner we American consumers figure this thing out, the better.

Don't wait for the government to protect you.  Act for yourselves before you are acted on by others.  Wise up...

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Comments

jay | Sat, 05/22/2010 - 22:08



Bert - it is a problem that is getting bigger and bigger. Unfortunately the homeowners will have no recourse with the responsible party and it will be their very expensive problem to rectify!

Bert de Haan (not verified) | Wed, 05/12/2010 - 22:26

I had no idea that the problem was as wide spread and as long lasting as that. Absolutely frightful.
Thanks for the information.

Mike Jewett (not verified) | Mon, 05/11/2009 - 16:48

Jay- here's some helpful tips when inspecting for Chinese drywall-

Most of the affected homes were built during the housing boom between 2004 and 2007, especially in the wake of Hurricane Katrina when domestic building materials were in short supply.

Exposure to high levels of airborne hydrogen sulfide and other sulfur compounds from contaminated drywall can result in the following physical ailments:
• sore throat;
• sinus irritation;
• coughing;
• wheezing;
• headache;
• dry or burning eyes; and/or
• respiratory infections.
Ask the right questions and you may be able to get this info out of the seller.

An inspector can use the following tips to identify if a home’s drywall is contaminated:
• The house has a strong sulfur smell reminiscent of rotten eggs.
• Exposed copper wiring appears dark and corroded. Copper coils in refrigerators, air conditioners, and microwaves that are damaged in this fashion can fail. Silver jewelry and silverware can become similarly corroded and discolored after several months of exposure.
• A manufacturer’s label on the back of the drywall can be used to link it with manufacturers that are known to have used contaminated materials. One way to look for this is to enter the attic and remove some of the insulation. It can be difficult to find a label.
• Air sampling for the signs of the sulfur compounds emitted by Chinese drywall are available, but the laboratory cost to analyze routinely exceeds $1500 per sample!
• Drywall samples can be sent to a lab to be tested for dangerous levels of sulfur. This is the best testing method but also the most expensive.
• Drywall installed from 2004-2007. This appears to be the time period during which most of the drywall in questions was installed, but inspectors should allow leeway on both sides of those dates.
• To identify the drywall, find a place where the backside is exposed (e.g., in the garage or attic where there is no insulation).
- Look for the words “CHINA” or in red ink or “KNAUF” in black ink. Anything that says "MADE IN CHINA" should be suspect.
- Look for C36 stamped on the back or edge tape, if available.
• Use your nose or listen to any complaints from the homeowner.
• Sample a number of electrical receptacles and look at the copper wiring as well as the A/C coil.

Some large manufacturers named in these lawsuits are Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin, Knauf Gips, and Taishan Gypsum. Homes built by Lennar should be checked closely; they used Chinese drywall in 80 Florida homes. Best guess is that as many as 36,000 homes in Florida may have Chinese drywall. Most of the Florida homes affected have been in the Sarasota area, with a second concentration around Palm Beach; it has been found as far north as St. Augustine.

jay | Sat, 05/09/2009 - 11:01

Mike - you are in the thick of the Chinese drywall problem. Beyond the smell, how do you determine if the drywall is Chinese?

Mike Jewett (not verified) | Sat, 05/09/2009 - 04:11

Jay- nice post, and I couldn't agree more. Everything from baby food to toys to building materials are brought down to a level far below Western world standards- and they can kill. As a Jacksonville, Florida home inspector, I've come across Chinese drywall here- it is very scary indeed, and I hope America gets the hint that Chinese products are bad, bad, bad.

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Jay performs inspections Monday through Saturday, throughout Northern Virginia, from his office in Bristow to Leesburg and Centreville, to Great Falls and Vienna and everywhere in between!