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Building Health Sciences - Healthy buildings, healthy people, healthy business

Chinese Drywall Remediation: The Challenge of Practical Application

Chinese Drywall Evaluations,
Remediation Planning and Oversight

When and who you select as the right multi-professional team of indoor environmental experts will make a dramatic difference in your decisions regarding the planning, risks and costs associated with identifying and remediating corrosive Chinese Drywall. Whether you are a builder or homeowner, selecting the right team at the right time is critical. The successful design and implementation of an integrated and well coordinated remediation and reconstruction solution starts day one with your initial response to the observation of corrosion or noticeable odor. The critical path solution is sequential, phased, multi-disciplinary and multi-trades; it requires not only an understanding of each phase's requirements and gaps, but also a vision of the process, including decision alternatives and identification of the ultimate goal.

Dr. Manis and her nationally prominent team of consultants are actively involved in Chinese drywall investigations, remediation planning and oversight, as well as presentations and seminars. Building Health Sciences can answer the challenging questions and partner with you for a start-to-finish, integrated remediation solution.

The Florida Department of Health (FL DOH), leading the nation on residential corrosive drywall installations, issued a Case Definition revision (12-18-09) to its initial Case Definition (03-31-09). This reflected the "current understanding of this emerging problem and the results of recently released information regarding corrosive drywall testing. The sole purpose of this case definition is to help identify homes (emphasis added) that are affected by corrosion associated with drywall emissions. The case definition is NOT intended to evaluate the health risks for occupants or to evaluate occupant exposures to corrosive emissions."

In order to accomplish its stated purpose, the case definition details three separate, sequential and escalating criteria for the identification of drywall associated corrosion:

  • Criteria 1: Sentinel Indicators to establish a POSSIBLE case;
  • Criteria 2: Supporting Indicators to establish a PROBABLE case;
  • Criteria 3: Confirmatory Evidence to establish a CONFIRMED case.

The case definition (12-18-09) advises that "a trained professional, not the homeowner, should conduct inspections and testing described in Criteria 2 and 3." Obviously, the builder or homeowner is capable of executing Criteria 1. "Trained professionals performing home assessments based upon this case definition (12-18-09) should use their experience, training, and professional judgment to establish their inspection procedures and sampling strategies." It continues. "Professional judgment is necessary to determine the number of samples and weight of evidence needed to meet each set of criteria." In closing, the case definition, next step guidance notes: "The FL DOH has not examined remediation methods and does not endorse any specific methods or techniques to conduct an effective remediation of affected homes." Who is this trained professional and what is the basis for professional judgment? Ultimately, this lack of guidance creates risk related to the selection of your professional team. Is the trained professional for Criteria 2 also qualified to be the trained professional for Criteria 3?

If, after confirming corrosive drywall is present, you determine remediation is needed, do these trained professionals have the expertise, vision and understanding to assist you to craft an overall planning strategy, as well as the remediation protocol? While the FL DOH case definition does provide guidance and criteria to identify affected homes, there remains the need to rely on professional judgment for other decisions. For example, how many trained professionals are needed, what is the sampling strategy? How many samples should be collected and tested? Is partial remediation an option and what constitutes clearance? Without the proper consideration of your approach from day one, overall incident resolution may be costly, incomplete and unsatisfactory; thus, creating a second wave of risks.

Absent an integrated, single-source solution which is focused, rational, scientifically-justified and planned, it is impossible to expect or achieve a corrective solution for corrosive drywall remediation. BHS' unique approach of combining "white coats and hard hats" – the integration of scientific principles, industrial hygiene, building diagnostics and construction management expertise into the decision logic of its corrosive CDW team – will prove to be efficient and effective in satisfactorily resolving your case identification and corrosive drywall remediation challenges.