Drywall is noncombustible, light and cheap, and absolutely commonplace, with 20 billion square feet of the gypsum-based product manufactured each year.
The trade off? Drywall can be bad for homes, bad for the environment, and bad for humans, as The Atlantic reports.
When wet, mold can form within drywall, and it can emit hydrogen sulfide, which can be lethal to humans. It can contaminate water for marine and freshwater animals. Workers in gypsum mines inhale plenty of dust, and the caverns can cause ground collapse for the surfaces above.
The site tracked the history of drywall, including how it became popular for home building in the years after World War II.