The Essential Role of High-End Spectroscopic tools in Root Cause Failure Analysis

Wednesday, September 15, 2021: 8:40 AM
241 (America's Center)
Ms. Jeanette Vass , Auto & Materials, Landenberg, PA
My talk will highlight the importance of using micro and conventional scale spectroscopy with chemical testing, for conducting a comprehensive failure investigation solving a serious problem reported from newly custom built homes.

Our objective was to identify the source of noxious odors suggesting the presence of sulfur gasses in these homes geographically concentrated in the southeastern United States, primarily Florida.

Obviously, the consistent noxious fumes emitted from unknown sources made the living environment quite uncomfortable for the occupants.

Additionally, this coincided with corrosion on metal surfaces e.g. blackening, pitting and tarnishing. This indoor premature corrosion of copper and other metal decorative items could have presented just an aesthetic concern or embarrassment.

However, the corrosion damage to HVAC coils, appliances and wiring from impurities in the air along with the noxious fumes elevated this situation to a potentially dangerous condition, requiring immediate attention due to safety and health concerns!

We promptly started collecting background data along with corrosion deposits and air sampling for visual inspection, photographing, evaluation and review.

Using optical and EDS equipped electron microscopes along with FT-IR, XPS spectrometers and chemical analysis, we identified the root cause.

It was determined that these harmful, corrosive pollutants emitted from the interior-drywall which was manufactured and imported from China.

The very high home rebuilding demand, as an aftermath of recent hurricanes in the region, necessitated the immediate access to supply availability.

Unfortunately, drywall imports were rushed into the US without proper quality inspection and verification of their chemical composition, ignoring the excessive Strontium and elemental Sulfur levels.

My presentation will detail the analytical approach proving Chinese drywall as the source of the unknown air impurities impacting these corrosion and health problems while suggesting corrective actions and aiding the legal teams litigating on behalf of home owners seeking compensation for their damages.