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Why should I be worried about lead?

Most houses built before 1978 have some lead-based paint on the interior or exterior. If the paint is in good condition, it is usually not hazardous. However, if lead-based paint starts to chip, crack, or flake, or if it is disturbed during repainting, remodeling, or renovation, lead in the paint chips or dust can create serious health hazards that cause long-term health problems for your family.

Children under six, pregnant women, and their growing fetuses are all especially vulnerable to lead. Lead from paint chips, dust, and soil clings to toys, fingers, and other objects that children put into their mouths. This is the most common way children get lead poisoned.

Why should I hire a lead professional who has been certified by the State?

By hiring a State-Certified lead professional to work on your home, you can help prevent your family from being poisoned by lead. Many construction professionals today still do not know about the harmful effects of lead. They may not even know that simple repainting, remodeling, or renovation projects can cause lead poisoning.

State-Certified lead professionals have experience dealing with environmental hazards. They have also taken training to learn how to do lead-related construction safely -- without poisoning themselves or the people who live in the buildings they work on. Certified lead professionals must take a Continuing Education class every other year to learn about the latest information, laws, and technologies for doing lead-related construction. Painting a door frame

If your house was built before 1978, it is especially important to hire a certified lead professional if:

  • Your house has peeling, cracking or chipping paint.
  • You plan to repaint, remodel or renovate the house or disturb lead contaminated-soil.
  • Young children live or play there.
  • A pregnant woman lives there.

What kind of State-Certified lead professionals should I hire?

For home repainting, remodeling, or renovation projects in homes built before 1978, you should first hire a certified lead Inspector/Assessor, then a certified lead Supervisor.

  • The Inspector/Assessor will test your home for lead, tell you if the lead in your home is hazardous, and give you options for dealing with it. Have the Inspector/Assessor test the areas you plan to repaint, remodel, or renovate before any work begins.
  • The Supervisor (sometimes called a contractor) will review the inspection/assessment results and hire an appropriate certified team to do the repainting, renovation, or remodeling.

This team will probably include certified Workers. For large jobs, the team might also include a certified Project Monitor, who will visit while work is in progress and may conduct dust wipe sampling after the project is done to make sure no lead contamination occurs.

You have many options for dealing with lead hazards in your home. Talk to your certified Inspector/Assessor about what solutions are best for you. Also contact your local health department to find out about simple things you can do to prevent lead poisoning.

Do all lead professionals have to be certified?

Lead professionals in California are required to be certified in many situations. State law requires lead inspector/risk assessors to be certified. State law also requires certification for anyone who does work designed to reduce or eliminate lead hazards from any type of building in California. You can call the Lead-Related Construction Information Line at 1-800-597-LEAD (outside California: 510-620-5694) to request detailed information on when certification is required.

What if I plan to do the work myself?

Before you begin your home improvement project, get information on testing the areas you plan to repaint, remodel, or renovate for lead. You should also get the free EPA booklet, Steps to Lead-Safe Renovation, Repair, and Painting. This how-to booklet, also available by calling the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD, is a valuable guide for anyone involved in home improvement projects that could disturb lead.

What is the difference between being trained and being certified?

California's certified lead professionals have more than just training. They also have experience doing lead-related construction work or dealing with other environmental hazards. In some cases, they also have college education in the sciences. All of California's certified lead professionals except Workers and Sampling Technicians are required to pass a Statewide competency exam.

Always ask to see a certified lead professional's Department of Public Health (CDPH) Certificate Card. It should show the certified lead professional's name and picture, and list the types of CDPH Certificates he or she has with their expiration dates.

To verify that a lead professional is currently certified by CDPH, call the Lead-Related Construction Information Line at 1-800-597-LEAD or look them up on the Index of All Certified Individuals.

Is there a difference between a certified person and a licensed contractor?

Yes. California's Contractors State License Board (CSLB) licenses bonded contractors in many different construction disciplines, based on their experience and a licensing exam. CSLB’s licensing criteria do not include lead-related construction training or experience. A contractor's license is important but it is not a substitute for a CDPH lead-related construction certificate.

How can I find a certified lead professional to work on my home?

Look at the List Certified California State Certified Professionals or call the Lead-Related Construction Information Line at 1-800-597-LEAD(5323) (outside California: 510-620-5694) to get a copy by mail.

What are some tips for choosing a certified lead professional? 

  • Ask to see the lead professional's CDPH Lead Certificate Card.
  • Call the Lead-Related Construction Information Line or visit the Index of California State Certified Professionals to verify a lead professional's certification.
  • Ask the lead professional for the names and phone numbers of the last three clients he or she did lead-related construction projects for. Call the clients to find out if they were satisfied with the lead professional's work.
  • Get bids from several certified lead professionals before hiring one. (TIP: A good bid should contain a written description of the work the contractor plans to do and the cost of the job.)
  • Ask each certified lead professional to explain any costs you do not understand.
  • Make sure the lead professional has workers’ compensation and liability insurance.
  • Ask the lead professional what special precautions and work methods he or she will use to prevent exposing your family, your property, and your neighbor's property to lead contamination. (TIP: The lead professional should use work methods that generate the least amount of lead dust. He or she should also take precautions to prevent spreading lead dust around your house, including cleaning up debris and dust while the work is in progress.)
  • Hire only licensed contractors. To check a contractor's license, call the Contractors State License Board at 1-800-321-2752.
  • Get it in writing! The work contract should include specific descriptions of the lead safety procedures the contractor will use.
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