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Implications of Home Depot’s lead-based paint settlement and $20 million penalty

Tom Neltner, J.D.is Chemicals Policy Director.

In January 2017, the outgoing Obama Administration undertook a criminal investigation of Home Depot for alleged violations of the Lead-Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule. Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed a proposed civil consent decree with Home Depot committing the company to establishing a comprehensive set of detailed procedures designed to ensure compliance with the rules and protect customers from lead poisoning.  The company also paid a fine of more than $20 million in civil penalties – more than any other under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

A federal court will consider accepting the proposed consent decree after reviewing public comments received by January 20, 2021.

The proposed consent decree is important because it:

  • Serves as a reminder that companies that subcontract work to others are responsible for complying with the RRP rule; and
  • Provides a comprehensive template for other retailers and general contractors to adopt to ensure compliance.

The settlement also alerts us of troublesome implications of a new federal policy that limits violators’ ability to direct some of the fines to affected communities for activities such as lead poisoning prevention projects.

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