Home Depot Inc. (NYSE:HD) has been fined $20.8 million after its contractors failed to allow lead paint rule. The Environmental Protection Agency announced the civil penalty on Thursday which is the largest such fine so far under the Toxic Substance Substances Control Act.
Home Depot fined for lead paint rule violation
The penalty resolves alleged violations of the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule for carrying home renovations that involve lead paint which the company’s contractors carried across the country. This settlement will considerably minimize children’s contact with lead paint hazards. Under the settlement, the company must implement a program ensuring that its contractors and firms it hires to conduct home renovations are accredited and they employ lead-safe-work practices. The program will ensure the contractors avoid spreading paint chips and lead dust when they are conducting renovations.
The states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Utah which have approved RRP programs have joined the settlement. Out of the $20.75 million fine, Utah will receive $750,000, Massachusetts $732,000 and Rhode Island $50,000.
EPA said that investigations of customer complaints regarding the company’s renovations established that it had subcontracted the renovations work to companies that didn’t implement lead-safe work standards. The company didn’t also conduct mandatory post-renovation cleaning, maintain law compliance records or give occupants EPA pamphlets on lead-based paint.
EPA conducted investigations on customer complaints
The EPA stumbled upon the violations while investigating customer complaints regarding the company’s renovations in Michigan, Maine, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. However, for most serious violations, Home Depot provided inspections through accredited professionals, and wherever there were lead dust hazards the company conducted a clean-up.
Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Deputy Attorney general Jonathan Brightbill said that these were a serious violation. He said the penalty reflects the significance of using accredited contractors.
It is important to note that the EPA banned lead-based paint in residential places in 1978 but it was still found in older buildings. Exposure to paint chips and lead dust can result in health problems including learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, seizures, and even death.