Home Depot to pay $20M fine for lead paint violations

The use of lead-based paint was banned in 1978

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department announced Thursday they have reached a settlement with Home Depot over lead paint violations across the country.

The $20.75 million settlement, "the highest civil penalty obtained to date for a settlement under the Toxic Substances Control Act," according to a release from the DOJ, will go partly toward Utah, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which joined in the suit due to their renovation, repair and painting (RRP) programs.

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“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. “Contractors hired for most work in homes built prior to 1978, when lead-based paint was in widespread use, must be certified. These contractors have the training to recognize and prevent the hazards that can be created when lead paint is disturbed.”

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Of the settlement, $750,000 will go to Utah, $732,000 to Massachusetts and $50,000 to Rhode Island.

Susan Bodine, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said the settlement will reduce the exposure children have to lead paint hazards, as the Atlanta, Ga.-based Home Depot puts forth "system-wide changes to ensure that contractors who perform work in homes constructed before 1978 are EPA-certified and follow lead-safe practices."

The violations that lead to the settlement came after the EPA investigated Home Depot renovations in five states -- Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin -- that demonstrated subcontractors for the home repair giant did not adhere to lead paint regulations. These include work practices, post-renovation cleaning, providing pamphlets to occupants about the lead-based paint as well as maintaining compliance records.

Home Depot will also provide information on how to work with lead-based paint at its stores, website and YouTube page, the statement added.

The use of lead-based paint was banned in 1978 after experts discovered it can cause a variety of health problems, especially in young children.

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Shares of Home Depot were unaffected by the settlement, rising 1.1% to $272.50 in mid-Thursday trading.

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