The Gypsum Files

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Gypsum news: Scammers and standards

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Hand-held XRF from Innov-x

News coverage of corrosive drywall is now moving into the topic of scams for the unwary. Ivan Penn of the Tampa Bay Times warns against unlicensed, unregulated persons bearing x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy guns:

Albert Freeland of Navarre is among those who offer the $500 XRF scanner testing. The XRF can search for traces of the metal strontium — part of the corrosive, gas emitting compound strontium sulfide that is seen as part of the problem with Chinese drywall.

Freeland says he has received calls to perform hundreds of tests across the state, among them requests to scan 90 homes in St. Petersburg and another dozen in Tampa.

Freeland says his background is in the construction business, which gives him his expertise. But it also is in the construction business that he found troubles. He says a partner wrote business checks that bounced and left.

Freeland pleaded guilty and no contest to several counts of fraud for insufficient funds checks in the 1990s. He also pleaded no contest to a charge of contracting without a license.

His son, Albert Freeland Jr., who is in the business with him, has liens for failing to pay federal taxes.

“He’s paying the money back,” the elder Freeland said. “He makes payments monthly.”

Freeland says his current partner for Drywall Detectors LLC bought the $42,000 scanner but wasn’t using it. So he began using the scanner to scan drywall.

He says the scan does not definitively determine that the drywall is contaminated, but the data is “an indicator” and he says “our method is about 99.9 percent.”

XRF itself is legitimate and appears to have potential for identifying the elemental markers of corrosive drywall (e.g.,  strontium). Of course, you can also determine whether you have corrosive drywall by looking for corrosion on copper pipes and wiring and a “Made in China” trademark on the back of your drywall.

In other news, the ASTM is working on a new standard related to corrosive drywall:

With heightened interest in issues involving corrosive gypsum board, the first draft of a proposed new standard on the subject, ASTM WK26072, Practice for Evaluation of Buildings to Identify Corrosive Gypsum Board, was reviewed and edited at a task group meeting on Nov. 10 in Atlanta, Ga.

The proposed new standard is under the jurisdiction of ASTM Subcommittee C11.01 on Specifications and Test Methods for Gypsum Products, part of ASTM Committee C11 on Gypsum and Related Building Materials and Systems. Development and approval of WK26072 is a priority for Committee C11, which has set a goal of publication in 2010 for the standard.

The task group meeting was attended by more than 25 participants including consultants, home inspectors, representatives of the gypsum industry and government entities. Following a positive question and answer session, the group reviewed the entire draft and agreed that the scope for the proposed standard would be to identify gypsum board capable of producing corrosive gases.

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Written by Elizabeth McCullough

November 18, 2009 at 7:14 pm

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