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Home Depot to pay $8 million to settle air-quality violations suit

April 05, 2013|By Louis Sahagun
  • The Home Depot USA agreed to pay $8 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that it sold paints with illegal smog-forming ingredients.
The Home Depot USA agreed to pay $8 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that… (Jewel Samad / AFP / Getty…)

The Home Depot USA has agreed to pay $8 million to settle a lawsuit alleging violations of anti-pollution rules and laws prohibiting false and misleading advertising in connection with sales of paints and other coatings containing illegal smog-forming ingredients, air quality officials said.

Home Depot, the nation’s largest home improvement chain, signed the agreement earlier this week with the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the district attorneys of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, SCAQMD Executive Officer Barry Wallerstein said. Under the terms of the settlement, Home Depot admits no liability in connection with the allegations.

“Paints and other coatings are one of our largest sources of air pollution,” Wallerstein said in a prepared statement. “Since the Southland has the most severe air pollution problem in the nation, our standards limiting the polluting ingredients must be enforced.”

The agreement settles a lawsuit filed in June 2011 against Home Depot alleging that it sold tens of thousands of gallons of coating products between 2009 and 2010 containing excessive levels of volatile organic compounds.

Volatile organic compounds combine with nitrogen oxides to form ground-level ozone, a pollutant that irritates the respiratory system, aggravates asthma and leads to irreversible reductions in lung function. Their respiratory effects are particularly severe in children and the elderly, according to court documents filed in the case.

A recent study estimated that the economic cost of these health effects exceeds $480 million in the air quality district’s jurisdiction alone, air quality officials said. The SCAQMD is the air-pollution control district for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Wallerstein said that in several instances, Home Depot stores continued to sell illegal clear wood finishes, acrylic paints, sealers, lacquers, roof coatings and primers even after the chain had claimed to have remedied the problem.

As part of the settlement, Home Depot has agreed to develop and implement a new computerized tracking system to ensure that only legal products are sold, Wallerstein said.

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Louis.Sahagun@latimes.com

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