- The Environmental Protection Agency has initiated a civil and criminal investigation against Home Depot surrounding its compliance with lead-safety work practices, WSB Atlanta reported. The home improvement giant confirmed the investigation in a filing March 23 and said it is cooperating, according to MarketWatch.
WSB, which is based in Home Depot’s hometown of Atlanta, looked into allegations from around the country. In one instance, a family in Augusta, Maine, hired Home Depot for a window replacement project, and the company charged an extra fee because the home had lead paint. The contractors, however, didn’t follow lead abatement procedures.
- In another incident, Home Depot paid a $37,000 fine for lead-paint violations at a house in Colorado.
Per the EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP), firms and contractors working in pre-1978 homes and apartments, childcare facilities and schools must be trained and certified in, and follow, lead-safe work practices.
Highly toxic, lead paint can cause health issues including organ damage, seizures, behavioral problems, learning disabilities and even death, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Home Depot isn’t the first large chain to have its installation services and contractors come under scrutiny. In September 2016, Sears settled with the EPA and the Department of Justice for $400,000 following violations of the RRP Rule. The EPA agreed to 123 settlements with RRP violators during fiscal year 2016.
The future of the RRP Rule is uncertain, as the Trump administration is planning deep cuts to the EPA, including shifting funding responsibility for RRP to the state and local levels.