Home Depot to Pay Nearly $21M to Settle Government’s Lead Paint Lawsuit

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced yesterday, in conjunction with the Department of Justice (DOJ), that the agencies have settled a nationwide lawsuit against Home Depot U.S.A. Inc. regarding abuses of federal lead paint regulations. The announcement explains that in addition to the $20,750,000 civil penalty, the consent decree requires Home Depot to implement new protocol and publicize information about lead paint safety.

The EPA stated that the lawsuit, also brought by plaintiffs Utah, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, charged Home Depot with transgressing the EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule. The agency explained that though lead paint was banned in residential buildings in 1978, lead dust becomes hazardous when paint deteriorates or through disruption via home renovation. The RRP rule is intended to reduce the risk of lead exposure, which is known to cause a range of health problems.

Allegedly, when consumers from various states complained about renovations Home Depot had conducted, the EPA responded. The agency determined that the firms Home Depot subcontracted 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 EPA conducted a further investigation and reportedly identified “hundreds of instances” in which the defendant sent uncertified firms to perform RRP jobs. The agency also concluded that Home Depot did not retain documentation showing that its laborers were properly trained and EPA-certified, as required by the RRP rule.

The monetary settlement, reportedly the highest ever under the Toxic Substances Control Act, allocates funds mainly to the federal government, but also to the state plaintiffs. The press release notes that the consent decree is subject to both a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.