Latest headlines: China's Nuclear Entry Into Space; Mangano-Sherman-Busby Study...Raises Questions; Fukushima research is back
In 2008, homeowners in several southern U.S. states began informing federal authorities of health problems and curious corrosion issues plaguing their homes1 and many speculated the culprit was their drywall. In late 2009, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) led an investigation that found that imported drywall - affecting more than 50,000 homes - contained higher than normal levels of sulphur (and other volatile chemicals). The CPSC's conclusion, however, fell short of explaining the severity of health and corrosion problems in many affected homes.
What REALLY is the problem?
Until the mid-2000s, the U.S. produced enough drywall for its domestic needs, but hurricanes and other disasters forced domestic building supply companies to begin importing it in vast quantities from China. However, the drywall from China was a kind of building material that the U.S. government banned decades ago. In 1989, the U.S. Congress passed a law that prohibited putting phosphogypsum, an industrial waste product with above-normal levels of radioactivity, into construction and building materials, including drywall. That law, however, surprisingly didn't ban the import of the stuff!
What is drywall made of?
Actors in a television sitcom aired in 2010 joked that drywall is made of peanut shells.
It is not. It is made of gypsum, which is a naturally occurring mineral called calcium sulfate; gypsum is made of 79% of this mineral and 21% water.
Gypsum is sometimes mined from phosphate deposits but actually is mostly sourced from waste generated at coal plants. As mentioned in a 2009 article titled 'All Things Gypsum: Chinese Drywall,'"Most of the byproduct gypsum used in North America to manufacture wallboard is produced when coal-fired power plants clean their stacks." The gypsum found in the coal plant stacks (or, technically speaking, the flue gas desulfurization system) is chemically similar to that found in the Earth, however is called 'synthetic' gypsum. The problem is that synthetic drywall gypsum has mercury, lead, chromium, aluminum and nickel in it too.
When gypsum is mixed with water and paper, wallboard is created. Gypsum is also used in toothpaste, medicines, plaster of Paris, stucco, plaster in construction, food and paint additive, and even as a component of blackboard chalk.
Reference: 'All Things Gypsum: Chinese Drywall,' 11.4.09, wconline.com; (More of quoted passage: "Stack emissions are fed through a limestone slurry and oxygenated in a process that yields flue gas desulfurization gypsum. Wallboard-grade byproduct gypsum and natural gypsum are chemically identical.")
Drywall, wallboard, gypsum board, and sheetrock are used interchangeably.
The U.S.'s relaxed import policy of phosphogypsum products violates the intention of the 1989 law and it is no wonder we have been seeing radiation sickness - yes, radiation sickness - in some of the reconstructed U.S. hurricane-torn residences where this phosphogypsum drywall ended up! There is reason to believe that U.S. agencies are covering up the true nature of the drywall controversy because they don't want to admit that they made a mistake - in allowing import of toxic Chinese drywall.2
What is phosphogypsum?
The phosphate industry mines phosphate ore to make phosphoric acid, which it sells to companies which incorporate it into fertilizer and animal feed. The acid-making process creates a toxic medley of waste, comprised of three-parts sulfur and one-part heavy metals and radioactive chemicals. The reason for the high sulfur content is that sulfuric acid is used to change phosphate into phosphoric acid, but that conversion leaves behind calcium-rich sulfur as the waste product. The 'sulfur' smell in drywall-affected homes is because phosphogypsum-made drywall has high concentrations of sulfur.
How to make phosphogypsum
Phosphate rock is made of one part calcium, eight parts oxygen and two parts phosphorus.
Phosphate rock = Ca(PO4)2
In order to convert phosphate rock into phosphoric acid, a 'building block' of phosphate fertilizers and also livestock feed, the calcium needs to be stripped and replaced with hydrogen.
Phosphoric acid = H3PO4
Adding sulfuric acid injects the needed hydrogen and strips away the calcium
Sulfuric acid = H2SO4
What's left is phosphogypsum, which is 75% sulfur, part calcium, part radioactive, and part trace minerals (including fluoride) and heavy metals that are not good for the environment or human health.
Phosphogypsum = CaSO4
(sometimes it is attached to 2 water molecules, which makes it an acidic mixture)
Formula to make phosphoric acid = Ca(PO4)2 + 3H2SO4 => 2H3PO4 + 3CaSO4
Phosphate - and phosphate waste (like phosphogypsum) - has higher-than-normal concentrations of uranium and other naturally-occurring radioactive elements. Phosphate is so (relatively) radioactive that at one point in American history the phosphate industry was the primary source for uranium for nuclear bomb production.3 The waste from the phosphate industry also is so (relatively) radioactive that the EPA has stood firm against industrial pressure to use it in road construction, new plastic composites, roofing tiles, and even to create artificial coral reefs or for use in pasture grass 'fertilizer'!4 This phosphogypsum waste is actually almost thirty times more radioactive than ordinary gypsum drywall and some of the radioactivity consists of a substance called radium that used to be painted on watch dials to make them glow!5
Why is phosphate so (relatively) radioactive?
Our Earth was formed with large quantities of naturally-occurring uranium and 'uranium daughter' products, which are radio-chemicals formed when uranium decays. Many materials that come from below the ground are radioactive to varying levels, like radon, natural gas, oil, clay, etc... The same goes for phosphate, which is more radioactive than most other 'Earth' materials.6
So, when you put the radioactive ingredients from phosphate ore into your drywall, you are going to be exposed to naturally-occurring radioactive elements. The radiation dangers include gamma rays and radon gas, both of which can literally emanate from the walls and penetrate through wallpaper and paint. We all know radon is dangerous. Radon decays into polonium-210, which the EPA says is an important factor in the initiation of bronchial cancer. Not many people know that the phosphate industry sells tobacco farmers fertilizer that is (relatively) radioactive. The EPA notes this on their website: "phosphate fertilizers, favored by the tobacco industry, contain radium and its decay products (including lead-210 and polonium-210). When phosphate fertilizer is spread on tobacco fields year after year, the concentration of lead-210 and polonium-210 in the soil rises."
What happens is that the radium in the phosphate fertilizers ends up in tobacco field soils that emits radon gas that seeps through the soil and decays into the radioactive metals lead-210 and polonium-210 that adhere to the sticky tobacco leaves; this radioactivity can also become absorbed directly by the tobacco plant through the soil. The concentration of lead-210 and polonium-210 more or less is retained despite the "curing process, cutting, and manufacture into cigarettes" and when in the smoker's body sticks to the lung cells. Although it is not mentioned on the EPA site, the radionuclides incorporate into the blood, affecting the liver and other organs. The lead-210 decays bit by bit in the smoker's body to become polonium-210. Biopsies of smokers have revealed polonium-210 stuck in the lung tissue and in the bones; smokers have two times the amount of radioactive polonium in the bones than nonsmokers and six times more polonium-210 in their urine than nonsmokers, which may explain smokers' high rates of bladder cancer.7 In this sense, we can also consider that drywall 'victims' are being 'smoked' too. Lead-210 and polonium-210 are present in drywall dust - that is breathable during and (lingers) even after construction - and in the decay-products of radon gas - that seeps from installed phosphogypsum and even ordinary drywall. Both chemicals can increase the radiation burden of children and adults in the home.
Why phosphogypsum is banned for use in building materials
Fear of health impacts from internalized lead-210 and polonium-210 is one of the reasons why the U.S. banned phosphogypsum in building materials in 1989. As early as the 1970s, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was aware of the health impacts associated with slightly radioactive building materials. In a 1978 document, the NRC noted a study published two years earlier that "[suggested] that it is not unlikely that the total dose (external gamma and internal alpha) to the bronchi of occupants of homes built with uranium-bearing materials over a 50-year period at an average of 15 hr/day would approach that at which the incidence of lung cancer in uranium miners is doubled." A 1974 federal study of 400 homes made with uranium-bearing material determined that the homes built with phosphogypsum wallboard increased resident's total annual radiation dose by around 50%.8 Health physicists note that even ordinary intact drywall not made of phosphogypsum - meaning ordinary gypsum-rock (a white, chalky substance) - releases gamma rays from radium-226 and radon-222 gas that could add one-third to a persons' yearly total radiation exposure. (This is a good reason NOT to rent or buy homes made with drywall - or with granite countertops - or made of brick and concrete!)
Getting back to the drywall health crisis: how could Chinese drywall account for metal corrosion? Well, a 2009 federal study found that Chinese drywall samples had higher than normal levels of volatile sulfur compounds, which can 'aerate' into sulfur-based gases that may corrode copper and other metals.
What about respiratory problems and nosebleeds? Sulfur compounds may be irritants to health but something else may be to blame for *some* of the affected homeowners and their families. For decades, scientists have known from studies of uranium miners that respiratory disease is caused by inhalation of radon gas and radioactive polonium and radioactive lead and other 'uranium daughters.' The plain fact is that uranium miners are exposed in large quantities to the same kinds of naturally occurring radiochemicals as residents of homes made with 'uranium-bearing materials' - and if you have a concrete foundation, wallboard, plaster, glass, porcelain etc... then you have these materials in your midst. They all emit slightly radioactive chemicals all of the time. In the 20th century, several residents in a southwest Navajo reservation unwittingly built their homes using uranium tailings (waste product of uranium mining) and they too developed respiratory disease and some died from lung cancer from just breathing in the toxic emissions from their walls. One resident - after years of exposure of living in a 'uranium house' - began bleeding profusely from his lungs and died 12 days later.9
There is also something the EPA and CPSC failed to consider: radium. Radium is a naturally radioactive element that 'gives birth' to radon gas. It has been known for over 50 years that inhaling radium can initiate hemorrhaging of your organs. In the early part of the 20th century, workers in watch factories would thinly apply 'glow-in-the-dark' paint - fortified with radioactive radium - on watch dials.10 These 'radium girls,' as they later became known, licked their brushes to create thin paint strokes but unwittingly ingested dangerous amounts of radium into their bodies. This led to a slew of radiation-induced maladies, among them bloody gums - note that one of the health problems associated with imported drywall is bloody noses. When home construction or remodeling is underway or finished, homeowners and residents end up breathing, eating and wearing drywall dust.11 Something like 200 pounds of drywall dust coat walls, floors, chairs, ducts and countertops during and following each large home renovation project that leads to the ingestion or inhalation of about 1 kilogram (more than 2 pounds) of dust by contractors and/or residents! The dust travels through the internal organs and lymph nodes and blood and ear-throat-nose channels. Depending on the radium-content of the drywall, it will deposit anywhere from 1-2 billionths of a gram to 10-20 billionths of a gram of radium in your innards. The authors of the book 'The American West at Risk' (p.506)12 note that "Edwin Lehman, an early radiological chemist, ....died in 1925 from the effects of radiation poisoning after inadvertently breathing low-radioactivity radium dust, amounting to less than a millionth of an ounce," which the authors converted to "about 8 billionths...of a gram of radium." Conceivably, inhalation of 1 kilogram of phosphogypsum dust may give you between a 10% to 100% fatal dose of radiation.
We need two solutions to end unnecessary exposures to Americans from phosphate industry waste:
1) A ban on imported phosphogypsum building materials should be introduced and passed in the Congress.
2) The phosphate industry needs to be dismantled.
A RESOLUTION OPPOSING THE CONTINUATION OF THE U.S. PHOSPHATE INDUSTRY 13
WHEREAS, the phosphate industry extracts the mineral phosphate from igneous (fluorapatite) and sedimentary (francolite) rock and for every 1 ton of phosphate rock processed into phosphoric acid via the' wet process' about 5 tons of waste is created; and,
WHEREAS, according to U.S. News and World Report's 1995 article Sinkholes and Stacks, this waste 'is pumped from the fertilizer plants into the stacks in a slurry of waste water that is as acidic as gastric fluid or lemon juice. The effluent contains varying concentrations of 17 heavy metals or other toxic substances, including lead, arsenic, chromium, mercury and cadmium'; and,
WHEREAS, this waste is known popularly and technically as 'phosphogypsum waste'; and,
WHEREAS, phosphogypsum waste is unusable, untreatable and ecologically damaging; and,
WHEREAS, phosphogypsum waste is created by the industry at the rate of 30 million tons per year and hitherto has created a waste inventory in excess of 1 billion tons; and,
WHEREAS, before 1990, the phosphate industry disposed a fraction of its phosphogypsum waste into the sea, and in 1989 dumped 10% of its waste in the sea; and,
WHEREAS, in 1990 the EPA mandated that the industry dispose such waste in 'stacks' on plant sites or as backfill in phosphate mines and not ocean dump; and,
WHEREAS, 'Bone Valley,' the heart of Florida's phosphate industry, produces 75-80% of the phosphate in the U.S. and stores this waste in 'stacks' of phosphogypsum waste that can rise over 300 feet high; and,
WHEREAS, Florida is home to more than 25 stacks, also called 'Florida's mountains,' which rise above the highest natural elevations in the state, creating a visual eyesore for residents and tourists; and,
WHEREAS, the phosphate industry is not required to cover these stacks at all times and radioactive chemicals regularly are resuspended (blown off by the wind), contributing to radiological exposures to the public; and,
WHEREAS, the weight of these stacks occasionally collapse karst topography, resulting in sinkholes, into which massive amounts of toxic ingredients enter into aquifers; and,
WHEREAS, in 1994, a 15-story sinkhole formed below an 80-million ton 'gyp-stack' maintained by IMC Agrico and apparently contaminated the aquifer that supplies 90% of Florida's drinking water with 4 to 6 million cubic feet of industrial waste-water; and,
WHEREAS, in the mid-1990s, a new stack in 'Bone Valley' was sited a mere few hundred yards from an elementary school; and,
WHEREAS, the phosphate industry wastes the time and effort of federal agencies - and taxpayer monies - by its lobbying and other pressure tactics to oppose and change federal restrictions on use of waste onsite and in consumer products or infrastructure; and,
WHEREAS, the industry has largely failed to convince the EPA to incorporate its waste for use in road construction, new plastic composites, roofing tiles, artificial coral reefs and pasture grass 'fertilizer' over health concerns related to phosphogypsum's radioactive content; and,
WHEREAS, the radioactive content of phosphate products has contributed to our nation's cancer epidemic. Unsafe levels of polonium-210 and other transuranics in cigarette tar stem directly from phosphoric acid-based fertilizers that the industry sells to tobacco farmers. Polonium-210 and other phosphate-contaminants have been identified as key initiators of lung cancer in smokers; and,
WHEREAS, many residential and commercial structures in the Northeast and in other parts of the country were built with Florida phosphogypsum wallboard in the 1930s and 1940s and these structures may have increased the annual radiation exposures of thousands or millions of persons by one-third or greater; and,
WHEREAS, radium-226 is one of many radiochemicals in phosphate industry waste that if inhaled in significant quantities can increase lung cancer risk; and,
WHEREAS, phosphogypsum waste, according to a 1993 United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation report, has a typical value of 24 pCi/g of radium-226, which is some two dozen times the concentration of ordinary gypsum; and,
WHEREAS, a 1992 EPA rule allows reuse of phosphogypsum in agriculture and research if the radioactivity is about 1/3 of that generated in waste (less than 10 pCi/g of radium 226); and,
WHEREAS, farmers in northern Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, per the EPA's 'agricultural amendment,' are now using this lower-threshold phosphogypsum as a 'soil conditioner' (as 'fertilizer') or to help 'strengthen' peanut shells or to counter soil-saltiness or low concentrations of calcium or other nutrients; and,
WHEREAS, continued use by some farmers of lower-threshold phosphogypsum is adding to the cancer risk and heavy metal poisoning of Americans; and,
WHEREAS, enormous use of potassium fertilizer in agriculture, combined with unsustainable farming practices and poor soil management, has contributed to runoff pollution, eutrophication of water bodies and the worsening of "dead zones" around the Gulf of Mexico's waters; and be it
RESOLVED, that although the phosphate industry has played a significant role in agriculture and industry, the ecological and human harm caused by its past and continued operations outweighs all benefits from its many contributions; and be it further
RESOLVED, that future phosphorus needs should be satisfied by zero or low environmental footprint substitute manufacturing processes of phosphoric acid that the phosphate industry failed to invent in its long history; and be it further
RESOLVED, the phosphate industry ought to be recognized in all official and unofficial considerations as a top public health enemy and the full force of citizen action and federal laws must be leveraged to ensure its entire dissolution.
1 Complaints included: unpleasant emissions and odors in homes; unexplained corrosion of pipes, mirrors, outlets, AC units and wiring; and health problems, notably nosebleeds and respiratory disorders.
Homes affected include not only those located in Gulf Coast states, but in all corners of the continental U.S., from Washington State to Maine to California to Florida. See map of affected areas.
2 On October 29, 2009, the federal agencies looking into the imported drywall problem stated in a press release regarding radioactive materials that 'Testing conducted over the summer by federal and state agency radiation laboratories found no radiation safety risk to families in homes built with manufactured drywall. The strontium found in this drywall does not pose a radiological risk.' The U.S. EPA's analysts looked at only 21 samples of unpainted drywall for radioactivity (in the summer of 2009) and only 7 samples were from overseas manufacturers and there was no indication if any of these came from China. The EPA claimed the entire group of samples had about the same amount of radiation as each other and no more than is typical 'background' radiation in the environment, but disclaimed in a technical report that 'because of the small number of samples, the Technical Team cannot conclude that these samples represent all imported and domestic drywall nor that the results demonstrate statistical significance.'
One of the samples that was of the imported drywall group (sample #53) stood out from the others and contained a higher-than-average 2.06 picoCuries (pCi) per gram of Radium-226 (226Ra; EPA NAREL). (This amount is the same as 0.076 Bq/g.)
Because of the EPA's small sample size, it may have missed sizeable quantities of Chinese drywall with extremely high amounts of radioactive radium in it. There has been speculation that a very large percentage of all imported Chinese drywall has phosphogypsum in it (read more in the July 2009 investigation by Los Angeles Times). Since the radioactivity (Ra226 concentration) of phosphogypsum (in the U.S.) can range as high as 35 pCi/g (1.295 Bq/g) and, also, since some imported China drywall is made of 100% phosphogypsum, then the risk of cancer to homeowners in a worst-case hypothetical case is unknown.
It is unclear if the EPA considered what will happen when contractors and DIY homeowners working on improvement projects are demolishing walls and breathing in radioactive dust. Consider that Chinese drywall is more fragile, and falls apart more easily than U.S.-made drywall.
3 Up to 75% of the uranium needed for early atom bombs was extracted via the phosphate industry. Unofficially, U.S. phosphate (waste) still remains a 'backup' supply of weapons-grade uranium, (albeit it would be very costly to extract).
4 The EPA gave in at various times; some roads in Texas and Florida have been paved with phosphogypsum, and various concrete building materials were made and sold in the U.S. with the waste product.
5 In 1993, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) quoted a typical value of 24 pCi/g (0.88 Bq/g) of 226Ra in phosphogypsum; most drywall samples have about 1 pCi/g (0.037 Bq/g) of 226Ra
6 Phosphogypsum's naturally-radioactive content depends on the levels in the phosphate deposits that were mined, however China's phosphate deposits are just as 'bad' as Florida's.
7 'The Invisible Drug,' pp.119-120
8 Study looked at about 60 of the homes built with phosphogypsum wallboard and determined the following: radioactive plaster in the wallboard gave off a yearly gamma dose to residents of 30 to 100 milliRem; at the time, the estimated annual radiation exposure to Americans was less than 200 milliRem/yr.
9 'A peril that dwelt among the Navajos,' LA Times, Judy Pasternak, 11.19.06
10 The radium paint was made of radium-226, which is an alpha emitter with a small beta and gamma ray component. It has phosphorescing qualities.
11 Even if a resident arrives in the home *after* the drywall dust is removed and cleaned up, there is still chronic exposure. A German study of living rooms and workrooms found an average of 3,184 gypsum fibers per cubic meter of air. This means that the walls are shedding fibers from gypsum plaster that becomes available for inhalation exposure. The notion that phosphogypsum (PG) plaster or stucco or paint (with PG-additives) sheds and constantly recontaminates ambient air with radium and other radiochemicals raises serious issues about PG products installed in U.S. residences and workplaces, especially in the Northeast by products of the now-defunct Structural Gypsum Company (see footnote 13). Obviously, home renovation and maintenance would significantly enhance radium and uranium-daughter exposures in these residences. Inhabitants of pre-WWII homes in the Northeast could be living in the equivalent of Navajo 'uranium houses.'
It is shameful that no follow-up investigation was ever conducted to find out which Northeast homes have Structural Gypsum Company PG products in them. Realtors and homeowners should be aware of this. Thousands of homeowners in the Northeast could experience what has happened to U.S. Chinese-drywall victims who found out their homes are worthless and un-sellable - because the high value of replacing the tainted drywall would 'total' the home. Home values in the Northeast could plummet.
We also need to consider if any of the wallboard in the former World Trade Center towers contained phosphogypsum materials. This apparently was never investigated. Even if the WTC-1 and WTC-2 buildings contained 100% ordinary gypsum drywall with an average of 2 pCi/g (0.074 Bq/g) of Ra226, the roughly 0.01 grams of radium dispersed in dust from the 9-11 attacks - assuming 4 billion grams of drywall dust from both towers were dispersed and entirely ingested - would contain the equivalent of about 10,000-100,000 'serious health injury' doses of radium, some of which would be fatal doses. The health injuries and cancers would stem from immediate exposure from the attack, work- and rescue-related activities at the 'pile' and delayed exposures from dust slowly filtering out of the ducts and ventilation systems of nearby buildings. This author witnessed firsthand the rapid health decline and death of a resident living in the Village - who never was working in or close to the 'pile'; they apparently were a 'downwinder' from the toxic WTC dust that spread across Manhattan (and the boroughs) in large quantities even though the greatest concentration of debris fell to the south-southeast of GZ. There is also the smoke detector product Americium-241 issue to think about too when considering WTC-related deaths. Assuming 76,000 smoke detectors in WTC-1 and -2 with a combined total of 0.684 (2.5E-2 Bq/g) curies of Am241, the plume from demolished smoke detectors as a whole was about 70 times more radioactive than the dispersed radium (of 0.01 curies (3.7E-4 Bq)! So, we can expect 100,000+ 'serious health injury' doses from the Am-241 if it was all consumed. Of course, only a fraction of the Ra-226 and Am-241 in WTC dust was internalized, but certainly a sizeable fraction was internalized and will cause fatal malignancies and serious health problems for a long time in New York City and the boroughs.
According to the book 'Let the Fact's Speak: An Indictment of the Nuclear Industry' (2006), in France on 10/9/1999, "a truck loaded with 900 smoke detectors, containing americium-241, and highly flammable materials caught fire on a highway in eastern France....About 40 people (police, firemen, and highway service personnel) were identified as potentially contaminated." If a truck accident in France involving 900 charred smoke detectors 'potentially contaminated' 30 persons near the disaster area, then what happened to the millions of New Yorkers as 76,000 smoke detectors bit the dust?
Getting back to drywall dust...exposure isn't limited to the residence. A 1981-1983 NIOSH study found similar exposure levels to the air in urban areas: 'ranging from 600 to 4700 fibers/m3 of gypsum fibers were found in European taxi drivers, office workers, retired persons, and schoolchildren.' [Source - 'Chemical Information Review Document for Synthetic and Naturally Mined Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate Dihydrate): Supporting Nomination for Toxicological Evaluation by the National Toxicology Program,' January 2006, Prepared [for NIH] by Integrated Laboratory Systems, Inc.]
Perhaps the health problems with Chinese drywall are also linked to the fact that (a) that gypsum is known to cause irritation (mucous membrane, respiratory), possibly leading to nose bleeds, and (b) brittle Chinese drywall will create more of a household dust problem than non-Chinese drywall.
12'The American West at Risk,' Howard Wilshire, Jane Nielson, and Richard Hazlet, University of Oxford Press, 2008
13 Regarding clause 'WHEREAS, a 1992 EPA rule allows reuse of phosphogypsum...;' - The 1992 EPA rule established restrictions on use of phosphogypsum with a certified average concentration of radium-226 greater than 370 becquerel/kg, which is also 9.9 pCi/g; restrictions apply to most agricultural and construction uses. (10 pCi/g is the same as 0.37 Bq/g.)
Regarding clause 'WHEREAS, many residential and commercial structures in the Northeast and in other parts...' - For several decades, the U.S. has benefited from an ample supply of home-grown gypsum wallboard. The hurricane impacts, however, in the 2000s dwindled U.S. supplies and forced distributors to import drywall from as early as 2001 to 2008 from China, which has no regulations against putting phosphogypsum into building materials. In 2006, the U.S. imported the greatest quantities to date of drywall from China, in excess of 500,000,000 pounds worth. (U.S. 2004 domestic production of drywall was about 18 million tons.) A half-century before the U.S. ban on phosphogypsum in building materials was put into effect (1989), large quantities of phosphogypsum were shipped (from 1935 to 1946) from Florida to the Structural Gypsum Company of New Jersey, which was a distributor in the northeast of wallboard, partition blocks and plaster. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) found that a number of homes and businesses in the northeast had phosphogypsum in their walls. According to a NRC document (titled 'Radioactivity in Consumer Products' (NUREG/CP-0001) published in 1978, numerous residential and commercial structures in the U.S. northeast were built with this Florida phosphogypsum before and during the war period. The NRC noted in its document that "a number of commercial and residential sites [were] tentatively identified as containing phosphogypsum materials, and one can assume that numerous other structures of like construction exist in the same region." NuclearCrimes.org doesn't know what happened with the NRC investigation and if the large number of affected structures still around today were ever cleaned up (like the town of Grand Junction, Colorado).
Regarding clause 'WHEREAS, in 1994, a 15-story sinkhole formed below an 80-million ton 'gyp-stack'...' - The stack at Agrico's New Wales plant in Mulberry, Florida, opened up at the southern end of the reservoir but a $6.8 million voluntary effort to plug the hole with '4,000 cubic yards of concrete 400 feet beneath the surface through 50 grout injection casings' (source) has closed up the damage.
Regarding clause about UNSCEAR value of 24 pCi/g of radium-226 - this is same as 0.888 Bq/g
Read updates by the Consumer Product Safety Commission
Initial EPA analysis: http://tinyurl.com/ylmg2jj
Chinese Drywall contaminants: radium-226, uranium-238, thorium-234, protractinium-234, uranium-234, thorium-230, gaseous radon-222 (half-life of 3.8 days), polonium-218, lead-214, bismuth-214, polonium-214, lead-210, bismuth-210, polonium-210, and stable lead-206.
The below chart tracks the changing 'score' of neutrons and protons over the decay chain of Uranium-238 (an ejected helium core is so-called alpha decay; an ejected charged particle is so-called beta decay).
|Ejected helium core||0||1||0||0||1||1||1||1||1||0||0||1||0||0||1||8|
|Ejected charged particle||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||1||1||6|