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Home Depot Responds to Lead-Safe Demand

Monday, March 6, 2017

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The Home Depot has reportedly pledged to host events and initiatives aimed at educating customers on lead-based paint safety practices.

The move is in response to an investor’s call for the Atlanta-based giant to do something about lead issues and exposures to children.

Home Depot
Jimerb via Wikimedia Commons

The Home Depot plans to boost its efforts to raise customer awareness of lead-safe practices by holding awareness days.

The investor, Arjuna Capital, issued a proposal after a subsidiary of the retailer paid a $37,065 penalty to the Environmental Protection Agency in 2016 to resolve alleged violations of the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule in Colorado.

Addressing an Endemic

“Lead exposure is endemic in our society, and not only in water,” Natasha Lamb, managing partner at Arjuna Capital, said in a statement. “It is a persistent and often invisible toxicant. While the Flint water crisis has hit the headlines, we can’t ignore the 37 million homes in this country with legacy lead paint.”

Lamb notes that disturbing lead-based paint through renovations prompts new lead exposure cases. No level of lead exposure is considered safe, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

paint removal
© iStock.com / mrmarshall

The EPA has issued regulations for abatement and renovation contractors to ensure that all work is done safely and avoids leaving dust behind.

“We simply cannot underestimate the public health threat and potential for consumer backlash presented by lead poisoning. Given children are incredibly vulnerable to lead exposures, a failure to manage this issue can place a company’s reputation at serious risk,” she said.

Arjuna Capital dropped its shareholder proposal after the retailer responded with a specific plan to target the issue, the investor announced Wednesday (March 1).

Events and Education

The Home Depot plans to boost its efforts to raise customer awareness of lead-safe practices by holding awareness days (two in the first year and annually to follow). The nation-wide events will include distribution of lead awareness pamphlets and in store displays featuring lead-testing kits for paint and water. During the event, manufacturers’ sales representatives will also be in stores to further communication on the issue.

Additionally, the chain will enhance mandatory lead-safety training for paint associates at orientation, incorporate lead-safety messaging on standard stir sticks handed to customers and include a lead-safety hold message on general phone lines for the retailer.

On Homedepot.com, the company has pledged to display safety awareness messaging on awareness days, linking to the EPA lead-safety website. The interior paint home page will also feature awareness messaging and a link to EPA’s website.

About the Retailer

The Home Depot is the world's largest home-improvement specialty retailer, with 2,278 retail stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, 10 Canadian provinces and Mexico. In fiscal 2016, the company had sales of $94.6 billion and earnings of $8 billion.

Founded in 1978, the home-improvement giant serves both contractors and do-it-yourselfers. In 2015, the retailer carried out 1.5 billion customer transactions worldwide, according to Statista.com.

The company did not immediately respond Friday (March 3) to a request for comment.

“It is not often we see a company make this type of sweeping commitment to address a problem,” Lamb added. “The Home Depot could be on the front lines of promoting lead-safety awareness.”


Tagged categories: EPA; Health and safety; Home Depot; Lead; Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP); Regulations; Renovation

Comment from M. Halliwell, (3/6/2017, 11:01 AM)

Here's hoping that Home Depot are also stocking paints that meet tougher EU and Canadian lead standards. The 0.5% (5000 ppm) in surficial coatings that I believe the US has been using (Canada had used the same) is being replaced by 90 ppm or less guidelines in many jurisdictions. Otherwise, I can see there being an RRP2 in a few years to deal with all these homes being painted now.

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