AIHA White Paper Offers Drywall Guidance
Are sulfide gases produced by the corrosive drywall's reaction with metal surfaces a health hazard? We don't know yet.
A white paper issued Oct. 10 by the American Industrial Hygiene Association offers guidance and recommendations for dealing with corrosive drywall (CDW). The white paper is both reassuring and alarming. It notes that individual compounds in CDW emissions are at low ppb levels, and the only medical study so far of occupants in CDW houses found short-term irritation effects in subjects who may have been "clinically pre-disposed to mucous membrane irritation at exposure levels below that known to impact the general population." However, it also says no studies are under way to evaluate CDW health effects, attempts to control emissions while leaving CDW in place haven't succeeded, and no protocols are generally accepted for remediation or for controlling CDW emissions. The white paper recommends 10 elements that a remediation protocol should include, including removal procedures that minimize dust generation.
Special handling of disposed CDW is not needed, but recycling it "is problematic," the paper states.
"There are no published standards for worker protection during CDW demolition. A limited study suggests that exposures are similar to those experienced during general demolition," according to "White Paper on Corrosive Drywall," which is sponsored by AIHA's Biosafety and Environmental Microbiology Committee and the Indoor Environmental Quality Committee.
The white paper calls for scientific research into occupational exposures, how emissions change over time and under varying environmental conditions, emission rates and duration, and several other "areas of uncertainty."