Drywall analysis using Field Portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF)

Chinese drywall imported from approximately 2001 through at least 2006 may have been contaminated with excess levels of sulfur contaminants that have created health and safety issues for people living in buildings that were constructed with these products.Niton XRF AnalyzerThat sulfur, when combined with moisture and heat produces high levels of sulfur dioxide (SO2).

Another trace element found in the contaminated drywall is Strontium. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests that the analysis of strontium in drywall core can be corroborating evidence in identifying affected drywall. A proposed new ASTM standard, ASTM WK28941, Test Method for Determination of Strontium Concentration in Gypsum by Field Portable X-Ray Fluorescence, focuses on a means of testing strontium in wallboard. ASTM WK28941 is being developed by Subcommittee C11.01 on Specifications and Test Methods for Gypsum Products, part of ASTM International Committee C11 on Gypsum and Related Building Materials and Systems.

Strontium (Sr) analysis has been the leading indicator for defective drywall testing and has been confirmed by Unified Engineering, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) studies.  This completely nondestructive test using x-ray fluorescence (XRF) technology can give instant results on-site without the need for a time consuming and costly laboratory test. Potential home buyers, insurance companies, and mortgage lenders can know whether or not a house has tainted Chinese drywall.

In addition to the Sr drywall, iron (Fe) and sulfur (S) or a combination of all three elements is also under consideration as the potential culprit of toxic drywall.

XRF Analyzers for Elemental Analysis of Drywall

There is a need for fast, reliable testing tools that can rapidly identify homes and offices affected by potentially hazardous drywall. With the proven ability to quickly sort drywall based on elemental concentration, handheld XRF analyzers distinguish themselves as valuable tools that can non-destructively identify individual drywall sheets that meet the elemental profile of problematic drywall. These versatile instruments can easily ID strontium and all elements from magnesium (Mg) through uranium (U).

XRF Analyzers, Drywall, and the U.S. EPA

In support of the CPSC, the U.S. EPA began to analyze drywall samples imported from China, comparing them with drywall samples manufactured in the United States (May 2009). The results showed that elemental differences between the Chinese drywall samples and U.S. samples were clearly identifiable. The technology they used to make the determination was an XRF analyzer. 

XRF Analysis - Pipeline to Proof

Investigators are comparing the values of the sulfur content of copper (Cu) pipes outside the home with the values of the S content of Cu pipes inside the home. When problematic drywall is present, they have noted a significant difference between the two. When reactive drywall off-gasses and attacks copper pipe and wire in a home, it forms a coating of copper sulfide on the surface. XRF analyzers can easily identify the sulfur on the copper pipe in a simple test taking only seconds, which could lead to a strong association between the amount of copper sulfide and the existence of problematic drywall.

Niton XRF Analyzers - The Ideal Chinese Drywall Screening Tools

Thermo Scientific Niton XRF analyzers offer high performance and advanced electronics while maintaining point-and-shoot simplicity. The Niton handheld XRF analyzers provide you with many benefits that are particularly advantageous for drywall screening.

  • Exceptionally fast, easy to use
  • Lightweight, ergonomic design
  • Nondestructive analysis
  • Effortless measurement of uneven surfaces even with knockdown coats
  • Easy and accurate identification of elements associated with reactive drywall
  • Tamperproof data maintaining test integrity 

All in all, you get confident results with technology from the XRF industry leader - over 20,000 Thermo Scientific Niton XRF analyzers can be found at work in more than 75 countries on 6 continents.

IICRC support

Whether you are a Treasure Coast area property manager, commercial general contractor, or home owner, One Call Properties Service will provide quality work, timely service, and reasonable pricing. We pride ourselves on the high standards we have established and maintained as a Treasure Coast area contractor. We will gladly provide references if you are considering us for your next damage restoration project.


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