If your home was built prior to 1978, when lead paint was banned, odds are you’ve got the toxic substance in there somewhere. Odds are, too, it’s (safely?) trapped under layers of latex or oil top-coating added by previous owners. As pernicious as lead is, especially if ingested by children, the toxin rarely poses an active threat except during times of remodeling, when demolition and construction literally churn up old dirt and dust. During renovations, lead paint layers can be exposed; any paint flecks or particles loosed into the air or deposited on surfaces could be contaminated.
Windows America charged a $50-per-window lead remediation fee, which I believe is pretty standard. The process involved closing doors that connected to the active work room, draping the furniture with plastic drop cloth and taping down painter’s plastic to catch any fragments loosed during the window swap-out. When the installers were finished, they freed the tape (attached to the walls about 6 in. above the top of the floor moulding), rolled it up around the debris, and my living room was no more grimy or lead-y than it had been when they arrived.
I still wouldn’t eat off the floors, but that’s due to my cleaning regimen and not lead paint fear.
Check out this post about lead paint at thecraftsmanblog.com, one of my go-to sites for tips and advice on repairing (and understanding) old houses.