Ultimately, being aware of the risks of lead paint is the responsibility of everyone involved in the deconstruction process: the salvage company, general contractor who hires the salvage company, the reuse store, and the contractor or homeowner buying the salvaged item from the store. Falk recommends calling reuse stores to determine their policy on painted products before bringing materials to a store to sell or donate. He also suggests swab testing materials you plan to buy or sell to determine the presence of lead paint. “Don’t just test the surface paint because you may have non-lead-based paint on the top. There could be lead underneath, especially if it’s an older item. Cut through the paint layers with a sharp knife and then test,” Falk suggests.
Most importantly, Falk says not to be afraid of salvaging and reusing building materials. Lead can be harmful, but only if handled improperly. “I don’t think EPA considered people salvaging and reusing materials at all when creating the rule. Their main concern was that the lead chips and dust produced during the remodeling process are properly contained; disposed of; and don’t negatively impact the health of the inhabitants, the contractor and workers, or the environment.”
Read more from EPA’s clarification of RRP to BMRA at www.Bmra.org/gov-a-leed-resources/290-bmra.