Home Depot Sued by Calif. Counties over Paint VOC Levels

by | Jun 8, 2011

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The South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), the air pollution control agency for Orange County and much of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, filed a lawsuit against The Home Depot Inc. alleging tens of thousands of air quality violations for displaying and selling coatings and paints that exceeded AQMD’s limits volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

District attorneys for Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties and the city attorney for the City of Los Angeles have also filed a second lawsuit related to the AQMD case. This suit alleges that Home Depot misled customers with false information about their products, which created an unfair business advantage over their competitors, according to AQMD’s statement.

The alleged violations of AQMD’s Rule 1113 that prohibits the manufacture, distribution, sale or use of non-compliant coatings could add up to steep fines: Home Depot could face penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation. Under the second lawsuit in accordance with the Business and Professions Code, Home Depot is subject to additional penalties of up to $2,500 for each act of unfair competition and $2,500 for each act of false and misleading advertising, AQMD says.

The AWMD filing alleges that Home Depot sold thousands of cans of sealers, clear wood coatings, lacquers and other paints and coatings in violation of air quality regulations. AQMD inspectors checked for violations at Home Depot stores by reading the labels of cans on the shelf.  The products containing volatile organic compound (VOC) in excess of AQMD’s limits were found at more than two dozen stores, the authority alleges.

AQMD said that the products were available at stores even after Home Depot management had been notified of the problem. Some of the products had been marked down for quick sale, AQMD says.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Home Depot said it cooperated and removed the products in question.

Paints and coatings are responsible for 23 tons per day of VOC emissions in California’s Southland, an amount greater than that emitted by 1.5 million cars. VOCs combine in the atmosphere with nitrogen oxides to form ground-level ozone, also known as summertime smog, AQMD says.

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