By: KABURU MUGAMBI
THE KENYA BUREAU of Standards (Kebs) has announced that the only three companies it has licensed to manufacture gypsum-based building materials in the country are Erdemann Gypsum, Deco Dura Creations and Shazaad.
Erdemann Gypsum holds two licences. One is for its Sh500-million gypsum factory in Kitui where it mines gypsum and manufactures gypsum boards and plasters, while the other is for its operations in Athi River, where it manufactures gypsum cornices, corners and medallions.
The company’s Communications Manager, Ms Patricia Kimanthi, said the management uses international standards to monitor the quality of gypsum building materials. These are American Society for Testing and Materials, and the European standards specification for gypsum boards, binders and plasters.
She said that key features tested for the various types of gypsum boards include flexural strength, nail-pull resistance, dimensions, water resistance and finish.
Meanwhile, gypsum binders and plaster are checked for their resistance to fire, sound proofing capacity and calcium sulphate (gypsum) content.
“Imports of these products are subjected to the same inspection and testing requirements,” Ms Kimanthi said.
Erdemann recently warned of dangers posed to health by imported gypsum products made from industrial by-products. While gypsum is a naturally occurring mineral that many companies mine, recently, people have begun making it synthetically from coal-fired power plant waste products. Erdemann Gypsum said it was alarmed about indoor toxins caused by synthetic gypsum-based products. There is concern that the low levels of the heavy metals present in coal might appear in synthetic gypsum.
“We should use natural gypsum building materials from natural gypsum which is safe for our health,” Erdemann Gypsum managing director John Yang said at the company’s factory. “The government should inspect imported gypsum products to ensure they do not have chemical contaminants.”