Lead in Recycled Building Products

POSTED BY on Feb 25 under Lead Awareness

contaminated mulch   This is a photograph taken by one of my clients. After testing their backyard for lead contaminated soil I recommended they cover the soil with a barrier (weed cloth or other suitable material) and cover it with shredded bark or another mulch material. This is an inexpensive and acceptable control measure where soil is contaminated.

The property owner, in trying to save money found a source for free mulch made from recycled building materials and had  it installed in the back yard.  As soon as the mulch was in my client noticed that much of the material was painted; a sample was sent to a lab and it tested positive for lead.  The lead dust in this mulch is highly mobile and more toxic than the soil it covered.

Please use caution when when you bring any recycled/re-purposed building material into your home or rental property. If you do not know  how old it is, where it comes from or whether or not it has been tested for lead contamination then do not bring into your home. The risk to children and adults is not worth the savings or liability.  Any used building material from 1978 or older may contain lead-based paint; the older the object, the higher the percentage it will contain lead-based paint.

This incident has been costly to correct and should not have happened. If you are a business that  recycles/re-purposes used building materials I highly recommend implementing a testing protocol to detect and keep lead-contaminated building components from being re-used. It will save you the embarrassment and liability from lead-poisoning children,  their parents, and the workers who came into contact with the contaminated materials.

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