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Strontium sulfide, a material that can emit corrosive gases in moist air, was found at trace levels in testing of Chinese-made drywall, the Florida Department of Health said.
The drywall samples gave off a sulfurous odor when heated, and in at least one case, sulfide gases corroded copper coils in an air conditioner of a Florida home containing Chinese drywall, said the department, which commissioned the study.
But more testing is needed to determine whether strontium sulfide was causing the odor and contributing to the corrosion, the department said. And more tests are required to determine whether the drywall poses a threat to human health -- a process that probably will take at least several months, state toxicologist Dr. David Krause told reporters Monday.
"It's very hard to predict when we'll have the answers [relating to possible health hazards]. ... We're moving as quickly as possible," Krause said.
Homeowners' lawsuits against certain manufacturers and suppliers contend the drywall has caused them to suffer health problems such as headaches and sore throats, and left them facing huge repair expenses. The drywall is alleged to emit sulfur-based gases that smell of rotten eggs and corrode piping and wiring, causing electronics and appliances to fail.