Premature Copper Corrosion in Residences Possibly Associated with the
Presence of Imported Drywall from China
David Krause, Ph.D., MSPH, CIH, State Toxicologist
Florida Department of
Health, Division of Environmental Health
Cape Coral Construction Industry Association and the Lee County Builders Associations
February 25th, 2009 at 8 pm
in Fort Myers, Florida
- County Health Department Staff were introduced (James Love, Lee County
Health Department, and Robert Kallotte, Sarasota County Health Department)
- Radon and Indoor Air Program (Clark Eldredge and Tim Wallace)
- Division of Environmental Health
- State Toxicologist, Dr. David Krause
Defining the Role of the Department of Health
- The role of DOH in the assessment of this emerging issue is limited to
- By documenting health-related complaints and possible hazards in affected
homes, DOH will endeavor to protect public health.
- Diagnosing individual illnesses of occupants in affected homes is beyond the
scope and authority of the Florida Department of Health.
DOH Activities to Date Phase I
- Gathering Information.
- Open dialogue with stakeholders, including builders, consultants,
homeowners, and material suppliers.
- Communicating our findings to the public through print, broadcast, and
- Documenting citizen complaints to
- Determine if this phenomenon was localized to a small number of builders
and communities, or was this a wide-spread issue effecting disconnected
communities state wide?
- Gather sufficient information to develop a Case Definition.
- Determine if this phenomenon poses a health hazard to people living in
- Preliminary Site Assessment of 12 Homes reported to have experienced copper
corrosion associated with the presence of drywall imported from China. This
effort was intended to
- Identify common trends in homes experiencing copper corrosion leading to
the failure of AC coils and other metals.
- Enable DOH to develop guidance for CHD staff, builders, and homeowners
to determine if their homes are experiencing premature copper corrosion.
- Identify possible health hazards in homes experiencing copper corrosion
- Selected samples of drywall taken during this Preliminary Assessment of 12
Homes are being assessed for sources of corrosive gasses contributing to copper
- Depending on initial sample results, further tests using laboratory chambers
may be performed to measure corrosive gas emission rates.
- All testing by DOH is being performed in light of prior test results shared
by cooperating consultants, builders, and homeowners.
Shifting DOH Efforts Phase II
- Documenting health-related complaints only
- Forwarding Non-health-related complaints to DOACS, AG's Office, and US CPSC
- Issuing a Case Definition for affected homes
- Proceed with a Hazard Assessment in cooperation with consumer protection
agencies and technical experts
The following are comments not in the slide presentation. These descriptions
were given during the presentation and not "written" on the slide.
These photos were used to illustrate what was observed in the homes and the
current case definition.
Photo Slide 1
This is a photo of black corrosion on evaporator coils. This is a documented
failure of air conditioner evaporator coil (located inside the air handling
unit) that is part of our case definition.
Photo Slide 2
This is a photo of black corrosion on the Freon "hot-line". Black next to air handler is
soot from soldering "hot-line" to replacement coil.
Photo Slide 3
This photo shows the markings on the back side of the drywall indicating it
was made in China (note that one side of the wall had American manufactured
drywall and the other one had imported drywall).
Photo Slide 4
This image is a close-up of the type of the printing stating the drywall was
made in China
Photo Slide 5
Another photo of the markings on the back of the drywall. This piece of
drywall has been placed on the floor and we are looking down. The objects on the
top of the photo are walls.
Photo Slide 6
This photo shows ground wire with black copper corrosion.
Photo Slide 7
This photo shows the corrosion of exposed copper for wires going into an
electronic circuit board.
Confirmation by an
outside expert or professional for the presence of premature copper corrosion on
un-insulated copper wires and/or air conditioner evaporator coils (inside the
air handling unit)
Shifting DOH Efforts Phase II Continued
- Work with stakeholders in cooperative efforts to determine if any of the
following conditions pose a hazard to occupants
- Corrosion of copper wires that are part of the home's electrical system,
smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, or other electrical appliances.
- Corrosion of brass and other metal fittings used in Natural Gas furnaces and
- Corrosion of copper, leading to the failure of AC coils, resulting in the
leakage of Freon into the home over time.
- Exposure to corrosive gasses emitted from problematic drywall.
- In cooperation with stakeholders, develop guidance for:
- Identifying affected homes
- Identifying hazards that may be unique to certain homes
The question of health consequences drives our efforts.
- Available data has not identified levels of corrosive gasses that exceed
those recognized as posing a risk to health.
- DOH continues to seek data from all parties regarding occupant exposures to
chemicals and secondary hazards resulting from corroded building materials.
- If data arises that identifies health or safety hazards resulting from
conditions in homes experiencing this phenomenon, DOH will work with
stakeholders to communicate them to the public.
The original power point can be
downloaded (10.3 MB Zipped Power Point file).