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Building material reuse stores sometimes accept older materials which have been coated with lead-based paint and could pose a lead poisoning hazard. In particular, older windows and doors are likely to contain lead-based paint, and this paint can present very high risks due to friction and impacts causing the paint to deteriorate and generate lead dust. How can employees of these stores and their customers manage lead hazards associated with these older building materials?

Answer: As a preliminary matter, your state may have laws or regulations addressing the management, handling or sale of materials containing lead-based paint.  Therefore, building material reuse stores should contact both their state health department and state environmental agency for more specific direction.  In addition to complying with all state or local law and regulations, EPA recommends the following practices to help minimize lead exposure to employees, volunteers, and customers.

At a minimum, EPA suggests that reuse stores label suspect items to indicate that they may contain lead, educate staff about lead hazards, and provide outreach materials to customers about lead-safe work practices. Some useful resources include: Renovate Right, Steps to LEAD SAFE Renovation, Repair and Painting, and Lead Paint Safety: A Field Guide for Painting, Home Maintenance, and Renovation Work.  These can be downloaded from EPA’s Web site or ordered from the National Lead Information Center at 1(800)424-LEAD or

EPA suggests that re-use stores assume the presence of lead-based paint in pre-1978 residential building materials and all other non-residential building materials, or have these materials tested.   Lead test kits that have been recognized by EPA are available at most hardware stores; alternatively, an XRF analyzer can be used to detect lead or a paint chip can be sent to a laboratory for analysis. 

Question Number: 23002-32411

Find a printable PDF copy of all frequent questions pertaining to lead.