ATLANTA — Atlanta-based Home Depot is under fire over allegations that contractors skipped safety precautions, putting workers and customers at risk for lead poisoning.
The company admits the EPA launched a criminal investigation into alleged unsafe practices for removing lead from homes across the country.
Dave Huddleston, from FOX25's sister station WSB in Atlanta, has learned the EPA’s criminal division are looking at several cases where workers with Home Depot may not have followed procedure to remove dangerous lead paint.
“Here you go, here you go right here,” a homeowner said.
The homeowner said he found paint chips and caulk in his Connecticut back yard. He said it was left over from a Home Depot job to put siding over his house. He said before starting the $24,000 project, the work crew tested the paint for lead.
“They did some wipe,” he said.
The homeowner said he wanted to make sure it was done right because there was a young boy living in the duplex.
“They told me they would come down and put plastic down to contain all the lead chips,” he said.
That’s required by federal law because lead-based paint dust and chips can cause permanent nerve and brain damage, especially in children, if it’s ingested or inhaled.
The homeowner said the crew didn’t follow any of the federal mandates.
“I couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe it. A corporate company would hire somebody who would do something like that,” he said.
Home Depot released information on the case Thursday, saying in January, the company became aware of the investigation by the EPA’s criminal investigation division into the company’s compliance with lead-safe work practices.
The homeowner said the called the EPA to complain. He said this is what she told him, “Since you started your complaint, they’ve been rolling in right behind you.”
I think she said there were 11 of them right behind each other.
I said, “There you go.”
We’ve been in contact with Home Depot. They said they couldn’t go on camera because of the investigation. But they said in a statement: “Lead-based paint work make up only about 4 percent of our total business and these rules only apply to segment of that total. We’re taking it very seriously, we’ll continue to cooperate with the investigation.”
Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank came up with the idea for the home improvement chain in a coffee shop in 1978.
The next year, they opened their first two stores in Atlanta.
Home Depot has since grown to more than 2,200 stores in three countries.