By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — Home Depot will pay a fine of more than $20 million after settling with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice for alleged “serious violations” of the EPA’s lead paint rule. The company will also pay Massachusetts $732,000 as part of the settlement.

It’s the largest penalty ever paid under the Toxic Substances Control Act, according to federal officials. The agencies said Home Depot gave work to subcontractors that in some cases did not use lead-safe practices or do required post-renovation cleaning, among other violations. There were also instances where Home Depot did not make sure contractors performing renovations were property trained in lead safety.

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Contractors who are hired for most work in homes built before 1978 must be certified in lead safety to avoid spreading dust and paint chips.

“These were serious violations. The stiff penalty Home Depot will pay reflects the importance of using certified firms and contractors in older home renovations,” Jonathan Brightbill, an attorney for the Department of Justice, said in a statement.

Home Depot has agreed to implement changes to make sure contractors who do work in older homes are EPA-certified when it comes to lead safety, the agency said.

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In a statement, Home Depot said, “These instances do not represent our high standards and expectations. When we found out about this, we moved quickly to contact all customers who might have been impacted and we significantly strengthened our lead safety systems and approach.”

The use of lead paint in homes was banned in 1978 because of serious health risks. But it still remains in older residences and can pose a hazard if the paint is disrupted during remodeling, the EPA said.

Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Utah were part of the settlement because they have EPA-authorized renovation, repair and painting programs.

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Home Depot released a written statement saying, “These instances do not represent our high standards and expectations. When we found out about this, we moved quickly to contact all customers who might have been impacted and we significantly strengthened our lead safety systems and approach.”

CBSBoston.com Staff