The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Consumer Protection and Environmental Justice Section filed a lawsuit on June 3 in Los Angeles Superior Court against The Home Depot USA Inc., alleging unfair business practices and false and misleading advertising for offering to sell, and selling, paints and coatings that violate air pollution limits.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District conducted the investigation that resulted in the lawsuit, which alleges that the largest home improvement chain in the region has exposed its customers and their families to paints and coatings containing high levels of smog-forming pollutants. In addition, Home Depot is charged with misleading its customers with false information about its products and, in doing so, sought an unfair business advantage over its competitors.
The lawsuit charges that from 2006 to 2010, Home Depot offered for sale and/or sold containers of clear wood coatings, lacquers, paints, and other coatings that violated air quality regulations. According to the City Attorney’s Office, paints and coatings are a major source of air pollution, responsible for 23 tons per day of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions in the greater Los Angeles area, an amount greater than that emitted by approximately 1.5 million cars. VOCs combine in the atmosphere with nitrogen oxides to form ground-level ozone, also known as smog. Ozone causes a wide range of adverse health effects, including respiratory ailments such as asthma.
More than two dozen stores located in Southern California were allegedly found with the illegal products, including several stores that continued to offer such products for sale after Home Depot’s management had been notified of the violations. In 2004 and 2006, Notices of Violation were issued to Home Depot for violating this same air quality regulation. Manufacturers, acting on Home Depot’s behalf, paid unspecified civil penalties to resolve those violations.
Joining L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich in filing lawsuit are Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach, and San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos.