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QUESTION: Could there be lead vapors/dust coming out of the drywall, where my landlord cut a hole in to fix a pipe, causing my symptoms? 27/04/09   California, USA - United States of America

Had a question.  My landlord cut a hole in my drywall to fix a pipe.  Since then, I have had chest pains, been very tired, allergic reactions in my eyes.  I tested for mold - and there was none according to the lab results.  I then considered whether there could be lead vapors/dust coming out of the drywall.

  1. Do you think this is possible?
  2. I have since moved out and brought belongings with me.  When around the belongings, I have the same reaction.  Is it possible I could have lead dust on my things?  I have been told it is very sticky.
  3. If this could be lead dust, how does one remove it from things - furniture, computer, furniture, clothes!

thanks for any info you can send.

EMAIL TWO Sent: Monday, April 27, 2009 1:17 PM

Dear Dr. Hegazi,

THANK YOU SO MUCH for your reply!!!  I am going to an allergist tomorrow and will request a blood test.  Thanks for the info pack too.  I did leave that apartment so won't bother to test the walls, but- the concern was with the belongings - I have washed them down with a solution to dissolve /remove any potential mold, but it still seems like I am reacting to something on them (specifically, furniture, clothes and books).  For example, last week after reading a book (that was laying where the hole was cut in the drywall), I experienced pretty bad chest pains for 48 hours.  Incredible!!  I don't know if you get hundreds of emails, but if you have any desire to comment on this new info, it would be greatly welcomed.

THANKS AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!


EMAIL THREE Sent: Saturday, May 02, 2009 5:52 AM

Dear Elizabeth,

Thank you very much for taking the time to help me.  It is comforting to think someone cares all the way across the globe!  I visited an allergist and with your comments too, it is helping me narrow things down to an answer.  Thanks again.  Best wishes, monica

ANSWER: Apr 27 2009

Dear Monica,

I thought you might be interested in the following discussion on the Leadnet egroup, the latest email being from me and including an article on drywall (it's not about lead in drywall) which you may well be interested in taking to your doctor.

I hope you have followed our initial advice and asked your GP for a blood lead test, as well as asking your GP to investigate other possible toxic components of the drywall.


From: The LEAD Group To: Leadnet Sent: Monday, May 11, 2009 2:26 PM

I don't have a source for the statement that drywall contains lead, but I have sources for the statements that:

  1. drywall is made of gypsum, and

  2. that gypsum is a re-used waste product made from the acid in the process of recycling lead acid batteries.

I also know that there is no such thing as lead-free acid from the inside of a used lead acid battery. Thus, logically, if the gypsum in drywall is sourced in a lead acid battery recycling plant, then it could well contain lead.

References: [TITLE: Get out of house with Chinese drywall, doctor tells family] states: "Drywall, made from gypsum, is regularly imported from Mexico and Canada, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, but during this time frame [2004-2007], the U.S. looked to China to make up for the shortage." states: "Used battery acid can be handled in four ways: Neutralized, and the resulting effluent treated to meet clean water standards and then released into the public sewer system; Reclaimed and after topping up with concentrated acid then used as the electrolyte in new batteries; Chemically treated and converted to either agricultural fertilizer using ammonia or to powered sodium sulfate for use in either glass and textile manufacturing or as a filler or stabilizer in household laundry detergent; Converted to gypsum for use in the production of cement or by the construction industry in the manufacture of fiber board."

Elizabeth O'Brien Australia

From: "Tamara" To: Leadnet Sent: Saturday, May 09, 2009 10:40 AM

Sorry if someone else addressed this already - I am not sure I am up on all the recent posts.

My understanding is that there IS lead in drywall.

It is in the joint compound for joining the pieces (and possibly in other elements.)

It is not considered a hazardous amount (in the industry) because whoever set the standard for that said that the lead in the joint compound should be calculated as lead in the surface area of the wall and if you average the lead in the surface area of the total surface of the wall it comes out that there is not enough lead in the joint compound to be a hazard... however if you just measured the compound it would come up showing hazardous amounts of lead.

The crazy thing about that is that the compound or the join is the primary point that gets sanded in preparation NOT the entire wall so it is therefore a hazard (because it not only get sanded, but sanded pretty vigorously removing a lot of material to make it flat to prepare it for painting.)  The dust created in this process is also VERY FINE and hard to get rid of.

I would assert that this can cause there to be hazardous amounts of lead dust (for a child) in any new construction home built with drywall (especially if it was not cleaned thoroughly before the family moved in/ did not have a clearance test.)

In our house - if there is going to be any sanding of any drywall we therefore treat it as a hazardous activity with all appropriate measures in place  - including doing clearance testing afterwards (and keeping the kids away from the area until there is clearance/ contain the dust/ using a wet-wipe method for cleaning up the dust frequently throughout the day.)


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