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Lowes Fined $500,000 for Lead Paint Regulation Violations

A view of the sign outside the Lowes store in Westminster

Image from Reuters Article Linked below

While we’ve known this was in the works for a couple of years now (a “little bird” gave us an early heads up!), we’re thrilled for it to finally happen. Thank you to all those involved in this enforcement action.

Of course – as with most of the EPA fines to date, fines overall seem low and given the magnitude of the violation combined with the financial assets of the “perpetrator” – it seems like a more appropriate (larger) fine could have been assessed in this case.

Thank you to the following for sharing links to this story with us as it broke:

Ed Wenz: & Greentree Environmental Services, Inc. – Michigan & Indiana

Erin Watson and Alicia Ward: – South Carolina

Jamie Paplan: – Iowa


24 Responses to Lowes Fined $500,000 for Lead Paint Regulation Violations

  1. rich April 18, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

    That fine is a joke. It comes out to $294 per store. Where is the incentive for them to comply.

    • Tamara April 18, 2014 at 8:27 pm #


    • Steve Taylor April 18, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

      Rich I wish you were my cashier when I shop at Lowes. Add a zero

      • Tamara April 18, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

        Still low though 🙁

      • rich April 18, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

        Steve, check your math. Hopefully you are not my cashier

        • Tamara April 19, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

          Given there are 1700 Lowes encompassed in the fine of $500,000 it works out to $294 per store, which is RIDICULOUSLY LOW as far as fines go. Especially given the potential outcome of their violation was the poisoning of children (regardless of whether or not they have confirmed cases of poisoning as a result of their lack of following the law.) Since, from what I understand, there are nine specific stores accused of violations – if we just look there, the violation works out to $55,555.56 per store, which does seem more appropriate, and in-line with the “promised” violation fine from the EPA of $37,500 per incident per day. However I would venture to guess that if you looked at all of the stores cited in this case and each violation included in the settlement – the per violation fine is likely much closer to the $294 than to the $55,555.

  2. Bill April 18, 2014 at 8:57 pm #

    At what point does the home owner assume any responsibility?
    Why does all the blame fall on a small business person / contractor, who had nothing to do
    with the initial lead product placement in the home?

    • Tamara April 18, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

      Bill – in this case Lowe’s broke the law (not a small business.) They were supposed to use only certified contractors and didn’t. We want to encourage everyone to use certified contractors. We want the contractors who take the time to get trained and certified and who take the time to use lead-safe work practices in renovation, to be rewarded for their good work and efforts – which will protect children from being poisoned.

      • john April 19, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

        OK… let’s be honest here…


        Some of our cities and towns are still providing drinking water to “OUR” children through lead pipes.

        I’m certified… guess what? Property owners don’t care. What they care about is the bottom line. I tell them I’m certified… do everything right and safe (always have even prior to this by using common sense methods). Show them the costs to do it right… and guess what? 99 out of 100 people will go with the cheaper guy regardless of him being certified or not.



        Had these idiots show up at a jobsite near the end of the project. “Don’t worry Mr. Contractor you haven’t done anything wrong” they said to me. All the while lining their cars trunk with clipboards and taking pictures. “What happened to the old work that was here” he kept asking. Told him there was no old work there when I arrived on the job. They didn’t care. Kept pressing and I finally told that I told the homeowner that they needed to an abatement company to the demo. Then he asked me why I did that… my answer “Because I don’t want to deal with you” I told them. They packed their crap and left.

        Two months later… same job, another contractor was working there doing some painting. I get a call from the EPA wondering why I’m not following protocol. Told him I’m not working there… that’s someone else.

        I stop by and talk to this other contractor 2 days later to find out what happened. This contractor (painter actually), and I don’t mean to be disrespectful to anyone or any race here, I’m just telling it as it is, is latino and working out of a beat up, falling apart, junk car. Talked to him for a couple of hours and he was truly a nice guy from what I could tell. He told me the EPA guy showed up, bitch at him about what he was doing, made him vacuum up some paint chips in the dirt, got in his car and left.


        Why… because he knew there was no money he was ever going to get from him so why bother… but a real, licensed, certified contractor with a true business and something to lose and just trying to make a living… everything comes out and they are ready to pass out fines to funds their bullshit paper pushing jobs.

        This is a the EPA… who is supposed to be protecting our environment yet they are mandating that millions of pounds of additional plastic bags and plastic sheating are sent to the landfills to wrap up the “lead hazards”. Bullshit!

        Has anyone asked their commercial dump sites how they have to handle this “lead hazard” waste? For those that haven’t… I have. They are not required to do anything special or separate it. Our local ones here send it through their same shredders where it ends up on a conveyor belt that empties out of their building through holes in the side of the building and into piles where it then gets scooped up and put into train containers. Did you bright bulbs get that… shredded and out the the side of the building where all the dust gets to blow across the countryside. All of a sudden its not hazardous anymore.

        Here’s another stupid question from a dumb contractor like me to the EPA. How do I handle the replacement and/or repair of a vinyl window in a homeowners house under the following conditions:
        • The window is four years old.
        • The window is in an in-law apartment that was added onto the house 4 years ago.
        • The window in question is a vinyl window.

        EPA’s answer… When was the house built.

        Told him the house was built in 1920 but that the window which is vinyl, is in a four year old addition that I built.

        His answer… House is built prior to 1978 you have to follow the rules.

        THAT’S BULLSHIT… Makes it an easy way to target contractors. There’s no reason to have to follow the lead hazard rules for that unless you just want to steal money.

        Look it up boys & girls. Recent interview with one of the EPA big wigs where he complained that not as many contractors became certified as they had hoped and now they have to look at raising the certification fee to collect enough funds.

        There was no, nothing, nada…mention of safety in the interview article…. was just the EPA crying money.



        Here’s another example… look it up… don’t take my word for it. Don’t take anyone’s word for it. Research this stuff yourselves and then THINK ABOUT IT and come to your own conclusions about how it all makes sense and the real reasons behind it.

        • Obama gives the EPA an unfunded mandate to clean up Chesapeake Bay
        • EPA then gives the State of Maryland an unfunded mandate to clean up Chesapeake Bay
        • The State of Maryland then gives the Chesapeake Bay surrounding counties an unfunded mandate to clean up Chesapeake Bay
        • The Counties then give the Cities and Towns surrounding Chesapeake Bay an unfunded mandate to clean up Chesapeake Bay
        • The Cities and Towns are now trying to pass a new hard surfaces tax to the taxpayers where they are going to use satellite images to measure how much room, driveway, sidewalks, patios, decks you have and tax you on the rainwater.



        • Tamara April 19, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

          …. what we’re up against.

          Thank you for writing, John.

          – Tamara,
          Mother of children with brain damage from lead poisoning

        • Brad April 21, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

          John hit the nail on the head!!!! I couldn’t have said it better myself. Over regulation costs money, that is passed on to home owner, homeowners don’t have that kind of money. So therefore I went into another business and will let Juan, Carlos and the rest of the Latinos take over….
          Thanks govt…

  3. Gary F. Brasiel April 18, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

    When our company was installing for Lowes in the Sacramento area all contractors were required to be EPA certified renovators. I went to the classes, applied for and received the certification for Brasiel’s Construction Company. When we deal with lead paint we always follow the recommended procedures. I know it was Lowes policy and don’t know how they let it slip by. Gary

    • Tamara April 18, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

      Thanks for your comment Gary. It’s my understanding (from the early information I had been given on this case two years ago) that this was something that happened consistently with East Coast Lowes. I think on the West Coast – especially in California – there are stricter regulations and better oversight (and also more conscientious contractors – like yourself, who understand the importance of lead-safe work practices.)

    • Tamara April 18, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

      Quotes from one of the articles:

      “The EPA also found contractors had failed to properly clean and contain work areas in three homes, although the agency emphasized they had not found any direct cases of bodily harm in the course of their investigation. The punishment sought against Lowe’s was more cautionary, they said. Officials also stated the violations were not company-wide, but isolated to certain brick-and-mortar stores discovered in their investigation.”
      “The EPA discovered the infractions through review of Lowe’s stores in Alton, Ill.; Kent and Trotwood, Ohio; Bedford, N.H.; Southington, Conn.; South Burlington, Vt.; Rochester, N.Y.; Savannah and Lebanon, Tenn.; Boise, Idaho Falls and Nampa, Idaho; and Muldoon, Alaska.”

      … so many East Coast, but elsewhere as well – and, as would be expected, none in California.

      Had we never moved from California – I feel confident our children would not have been poisoned.

  4. PJ Hart April 20, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    Tamara, I hate to hear you are the mother of brain damaged children. Were you being sarcastic about Johns comments when you you said ” this is what we’re up against ” as if John and contractors like him are the problem?
    You didn’t even validate his points that were accurate.
    I too am lead safe certified. I however choose not to work in any pre 1978 structures to avoid having to deal with the EPA. I am sure that pretty soon you will not find any legitimate contractors willing to work in pre 78 houses. And if they do, be prepared to reach DEEP into your pockets.


    • Tamara April 20, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

      Not being sarcastic, PJ & thank you for your response too. Can’t write much with #leadpoisoned kiddos underfoot – no care for them on the weekend. Will write more later.

    • Tamara April 20, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

      Ps – my story is in my film, my film is a tool designed in part to educate the public about the importance of lead-safe work practices in renovation, PJ. Please watch the trailer- it’s just three minutes and I think you will see it is a good thing to share with customers and friends who own older homes.

  5. Catherine Brooks, Eco-Strip April 21, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

    While the $500,000 fine is low per store, the press that the story is getting nationally is fantastic. “The LA Times” just picked up the story. The more contractors, stores, homeowners, landlords, parents, doctors, teachers, and others who read this story, the more real lead poisoning prevention becomes.

    Education is the key. Fines are merely a vehicle to snap companies into operating safely to protect their customers, their own workers, and the workers’ families. OSHA uses inspections to work with companies to create fall protection policies. Consider how vulnerable small company employees with their own families are when these safety practices are not used: a worker falls off a roof and breaks his back; an unprotected employee of a painting company gets poisoned, sick and out of work; an employee takes home lead paint dust on his shoes, clothing, and car and poisons his own toddlers…..

  6. Mel April 21, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    It says 13 stores could not provide the documentation. That is less than 1 percent of their stores. That is internal personnel issue. The people involved in the poor record keeping should be fired and the fine if any should go to a charity dealing with children who have been poisoned by lead not funding the out of control government. When you have 1700 stores it is nearly impossible to keep perfect records on everything.

  7. Gary April 22, 2014 at 2:00 am #

    I didn’t know Lowe’s was a licensed contractor. I won’t buy from them anymore. I don’t wish to support my competition. Didn’t Home Depot get into trouble for that?
    Anyway, Tamara, you sound way to excited about them breaking the law. Makes you sound like all you care about is the money.

  8. Replacement Windows January 16, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

    Once installed, alternative home windows reduce energy costs and outdoors noise.
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  9. Catherine Brooks March 12, 2015 at 7:08 am #

    I know I am bucking the prolific trend in the US to replace old windows. (Which, by the way, is funded by millions of marketing dollars by the companies which produce them.) Removing and trashing old, lead-based painted windows, is a short-term and limited fix to remove lead paint from a home. Most replacement windows will degrade in less than the 10-20 years of their warranties and have to be replaced again. How cost efficient is that for a homeowner expecting to live in their home that long?

    Removing windows out of the children’s home, stripping them off site using RRP rules, restoring the leaky parts, rehanging them in the house where their window frames have also been stripped using lead-safe work practices, and weatherizing them well is a safe alternative. This process is documented to improve the energy efficiency of the windows better than replacement windows. And the antique hardwood window will last decades longer than the vinyl, aluminum, and new wood windows will last. Think of all the resources spent to manufacture, market, and transport new replacement windows. Keeping old windows is more sustainable.

    If the windows are that old, then likely other interior woodwork is too. Old doors with paint are opened lots more than windows and generate lead dust from that friction. Are steps taken to replace doors and their frames as well?

    OK. I’m off my soapbox but would love to hear others’ comments on this perspective.

  10. lance November 26, 2015 at 8:09 am #

    Long story short I paid lowes extra to remove lead paint when I purchased replacement windows. Come to find out they did not prep or remove any lead paint. I got the money back that I paid extra for. I’m really concerned about the work I had to do to remove it myself. Lowes is not willing to compensate me of any sort any further. I have spoke to corporate many times. Is there anything I can do or pursue further. thank you,

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