In order to paint a house that was built prior to January 1st 1978, a painter must legally be a Lead Safe Contractor. I am certified in Massachusetts, and my certification number is LR001867, which expires on July 24, 2019. I will not do all lead work. I do not do exterior that requires too much special preparation because it is simply too much work for two people. An example of this would be a home that is less than ten feet away from the property line of its neighbor. When doing lead work, plastic must be placed on the ground ten feet out. if this cannot be done, the plastic must go vertical. This is too much work for two guys.
If you house was built before 1978 don't be scared! Often when I tell home owners that I have to test for lead, they get scared. Just because your house was built prior to 1978 it does not mean there is lead. Often houses have been remodeled many times and the area to be painted might have been remodeled after 1978 and thus would have been painted with paint that does not contain lead. If however your house is entirely original, there is still a very good chance that your home does not contain lead. If you want the interior painted, most paint manufacturers stop putting lead in their interior paints in the mid-1950s. A house built in the 1970s has only around a 10% chance of containing lead. The older the house the greater the chance of lead. So, if you house was built in the in the first decade of the 1900s then there is a very good chance that it contains lead.
What does Lead Safe Contractor mean? What this basically means for you is that I can test paint to determine if it contains leas (Sometimes all I have to do it look at the paint to know). And, if it does contain lead I know how to properly work so that the dust from the paint, when preparing the paint for a fresh coat, does not contaminate the other rooms or the ground, and I know how to clean up properly after the work is done.
Lead Safe Contractors are not certified deleaders. After the work is done, there will still be lead paint present, and the next time that house is painted it will need to be done by a Lead Safe Contractor. Lead Safe Contractors are only are certified to work with lead paint safely. They are not deleaders.
Lead Safe Contractors are not certified inspectors. Lead safe contractors are only required to test for lead in areas that they intend on disturbing. Therefore they are not lead inspectors. Just because lead was not found by the painter, it does not mean that you house is free of lead.
Why bother? When lead paint is disturbed it can create dust. This is especially true when sanding surfaces to prepare them to be painted. Lead dust can be very dangerous. This is especially true for children under the age of six. So, why risk your health or your child's health or your neighbors? Legally you can do this work yourself, without following the safe practices that contractors must follow. This is only true if you live in a single family home. But, if you choose to do this on your own, I highly recommend that you learn how to do it properly. Lead paint can be very dangerous. And, even though you do not have to fallow the same guidelines as contractors, it does not mean that there might not be legal ramifications if you choose to not follow the guidelines.