The Home Depot has agreed to pay $8 million to settle air quality violations for allegedly selling tens of thousands of gallons of non-compliant paint and other coatings to Southland consumers.

Home Depot, the nation’s largest home improvement chain, allegedly sold paints, sealers, primers and other products in 2009 to 2010 containing illegal levels of smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

"Paints and other coatings are one of our largest sources of air pollution,” said Barry Wallerstein, executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District. (SCAQMD) “Since the Southland has the most severe air pollution problem in the nation, our standards limiting the polluting ingredients must be enforced.”

Home Depot signed a settlement agreement this week with SCAQMD as well as the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and the district attorneys of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Of the $8 million, $1.98 million will be paid to SCAQMD and a total of $6.02 million to Los Angeles and the three counties. The agreement settles a lawsuit filed in June 2011 against Home Depot for violations of SCAQMD’s Rule 1113 governing architectural coatings as well as violations of state law prohibiting unfair competition and false and misleading advertising.

From September 2009 through April 2010, SCAQMD inspectors found numerous paint and coating products with VOC content exceeding SCAQMD limits at Home Depot stores in Brea, Irvine, Laguna Hills, Lake Elsinore, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Moreno Valley, Panorama City, Pomona, Rialto, Santa Ana, Tustin, West Hills, Whittier and Woodland Hills. Violating products included clear wood finishes, acrylic paints, sealers, lacquers, roof coatings, primers and base paints.

In numerous cases Home Depot stores continued to sell illegal products even after SCAQMD officials warned them to stop doing so and the chain claimed to have remedied the problem. As a result of the settlement, Home Depot has agreed to develop and implement a new computerized tracking system to ensure that only compliant coatings are sold in the future.

All paints and other coatings in the region emit a total of 15 tons of VOCs per day – equivalent to VOC emissions from more than 1.1 million cars. VOCs combine with nitrogen oxides to form ground-level ozone, a pollutant responsible for a wide range of health effects from increased school absences and hospitalizations to increased risk for asthma.

AQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Source: South Coast Air Quality Management District

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