Home Depot to settle lead-safety dispute

Retailer to pay $20 million over alleged violations during home-renovations

The Home Depot will pay more than $20 million to three states in a proposed settlement of alleged violations of the EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule for renovations performed by Home Depot’s contractors across the country

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice today announced a proposed nationwide settlement last week. The States of Utah, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, which have EPA-authorized RRP programs, are joining the United States in this action.

The settlement also requires Home Depot to implement a comprehensive, corporate-wide program to ensure that the firms and contractors it hires to perform work are certified and trained to use lead-safe work practices to avoid spreading lead dust and paint chips during home renovation activities. Home Depot will also pay a $20.75 million penalty, the highest civil penalty obtained to date for a settlement under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Of the $20.75 million penalty, $750,000 will be paid to Utah, $732,000 to Massachusetts, and $50,000 to Rhode Island.

The EPA said it discovered the alleged violations when investigating five customer complaints about Home Depot renovations (in Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin), which showed Home Depot subcontracted work to firms that in some cases did not use lead-safe work practices, perform required post-renovation cleaning, provide the EPA-required lead-based paint pamphlets to occupants, or maintain records of compliance with the law.  

The deal was made in a consent decree lodged with the District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

For more on the settlement, click here.

The Lead, Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP Rule) has long been of interest to the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association.  

The NLBMDA is supportive of the RRP Rule’s intention of protecting pregnant women and children under six from lead exposure and the original rule’s language.  However, NLBMDA has for years expressed concerns to EPA about the removal of the opt-out provision in 2010 for those who do not have a pregnant woman or child in the home as well as the lack of a commercially available compliant lead test kit.”

The association’s national policy agenda supports restoring the opt-out clause to the rule. It also calls on the EPA to renew its efforts to identify a practical lead paint test kit – and to suspend enforcement of RRP for renovations that do not have a pregnant woman or child in the home until a test kit meeting positive and negative response criteria is recognized.