In an agreement with the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lowe's Home Centers will implement a comprehensive compliance program at its more than 1,700 stores nationwide to ensure that the contractors it hires will minimize lead dust from home renovation activities, as required by the federal Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule.
The government's settlement with Lowe's, which includes a $500,000 civil penalty, the largest ever for violations of the RRP Rule, stems from violations discovered by EPA inspectors at private homes that had been renovated by Lowe's contractors in nine states, including Illinois, Ohio, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, New York, Tennessee, Idaho and Arkansas.
The government complaint alleged that Lowe's failed to provide documentation showing that specific contractors had been certified by EPA, had been properly trained, had used lead-safe work practices or had correctly used EPA-approved lead test kits at renovation sites.
In addition to the civil penalty, Lowe's must implement a comprehensive compliance program to ensure that the contractors it hires to perform work for customers comply with the RRP Rule during renovations of any child-occupied facilities, such as day-care center and pre-schools, and any housing built before 1978. Lowe's must suspend anyone that is not operating in compliance with the rule, investigate all reports of potential noncompliance and ensure that any violations are corrected.
Lead-based paint was banned in 1978, but still remains in many homes and apartments throughout the country. Lead dust hazards can occur when lead paint deteriorates or is disrupted during home renovation and remodeling activities. Lead exposure can cause a range of health problems, from behavioral disorders and learning disabilities to seizures and death. Young children are at greatest risk because their nervous systems are still developing.