Details from the EPA investigation of Home Depot lead safety
violations emerge, and employees allege 400,000 customers
could have been exposed to toxic lead paint.
Last month, an investigation of Home Depot by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began after allegations of lead paint safety violations surfaced. Yesterday, more details emerged; among them, up to 400,000 nationwide customers may have been exposed to toxic lead levels.
The investigation began in March 2017 after customer complaints of Home Depot subcontractors neglecting lead paint safety laws emerged. Customers described cases of lead paint chips left scattered on lawns and plumes of lead paint dust inside homes. In one such case, Home Depot workers replaced windows in house but did not follow lead safety rules. This resulted in lead pant exposure for a pregnant mother and toddler.
"My heart broke. You could see the fingerprints of the kid inside the crib in the dust that was generated from the work that was done," Bob Rickett, a contractor hired to clean up the lead paint hazards from the original Home Depot project, said in a recent interview.
The investigation has also prompted Home Depot employees to come forward. They, too, are concerned over customers who may not even know that they were exposed to dangerous lead. Some employees allege that the company seems to value productivity over compliance.
"I just want to see things done the right way. I think it's a nationwide problem," an anonymous Home Depot employee said in a recent interview.
Home Depot released a statement to Atlanta-based Channel 2 Action News, a media outlet helping to lead the investigation: "We're fully committed to following Lead Safe Work Practices, and all regulations, regardless of their impact on sales. If anyone believes otherwise, there are multiple ways they can report their concerns anonymously, and we will address any problem that might exist."
Although the dangers of lead are well documented, lead paint continues to be a source of exposure to many. Lead paint is still present in millions of old homes, and even small exposure to the chipping, cracking, damp or peeling paint can cause significant health issues. When renovations are done on old homes, they must first be tested for lead hazards and then treated cautiously to prevent contamination. Even outside, lead particles can gather in soil and spread to groundwater.
The investigation is still underway, but serves as a reminder to the importance of lead-safe work practices. To learn more about lead safety, visit Zack Academy's lead homepage.