Many paint contractors avoid taking on lead paint jobs because of the strict protocol involved, and even more so because of the financial consequences of failure to comply with the EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule. It was this failure to comply that netted Home Depot a $20.75 million fine – the highest civil penalty so far assessed under the EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.
Along with the federal government, the states of Utah, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island were part of this action and received a portion of the settlement monies.
The action is a result of an investigation into complaints from customers in five states that Home Depot’s contractors were operating in an unsafe manner, including failure to implement lead-safe practices and not cleaning up properly after the work was done. As the investigation proceeded, the government discovered that the contractors were not lead certified, a requirement for working on the properties where they were hired. Also, Home Depot failed to keep required documentation on their contractors to show whether they were certified in lead-safe practices.
More abating, more doing
As part of the settlement, the company will be required to be more vigilant in future lead jobs, which includes inspecting the job sites to make sure proper protocol is followed and documenting the job through a checklist that will lead contractors through every step of the RRP rule. The completed checklist will then be provided to the customer. The company is also required to provide information on lead-safe practices to contractors and homeowners on its store displays and social media outlets.
For the most serious violations addressed by the settlement, Home Depot offered its customers inspections using certified professionals and, if dust lead hazards were found, it performed specialized cleaning and verification.
“These were serious violations. The stiff penalty Home Depot will pay reflects the importance of using certified firms and contractors in older home renovations,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jonathan D. Brightbill of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.