EPA - Lowe's reach record-breaking lead settlement

In the United States, the federal Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule protects children and others who are vulnerable to lead dust exposure. Lead dust exposure can cause lead poisoning. EPA oversees this rule.

EPA says it found record-keeping violations by contractors working in private homes while working on behalf of Lowe's.

Lowe's will implement a comprehensive, corporate-wide compliance program at its over 1,700 stores nationwide. The compliance program will aim to ensure that contractors minimize lead dust from home renovation activities. Lowe's will pay a $500,000 civil penalty, the largest ever for violations of the RRP Rule.

“Lowe's is taking responsibility for the actions of the firms it hires, and EPA expects other contractors to do the same,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

Is that a threat? Probably. It's quite a precedent, this penalty, which makes it high time for companies in the position of hiring contractors to gussy up compliance standards, contractor training, and documentation procedures.

Lead threat balloon

Is lead poisoning still a public health problem? Yes. Scientists continue documenting health effects at lower & lower levels of exposure. To reflect the evolving evidence:
  1. NIOSH recently updated its recommendations on blood lead levels for adults
  2. CDC also recently updated their recommendations on blood lead levels in children
For laboratories, this means lower detection limits and related changes to results reporting. For the rest of us, both businesses and consumers alike, it means we should be more alert than we thought. Many believe the lead problem was solved decades ago.

For more on the Lowe's settlement: visit EPA web page.

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Kathleen HurleyEPA, Lowe's, lead