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Lowe’s to pay $2.75 million fine

Lowe’s has agreed to pay $2.75 million to settle a case with a Southern California air quality agency over the sale of paints and varnishes with high-VOC content.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, announced on Oct. 29 that Lowe’s will pay $2.45 million in civil penalties and $300,000 to cover the agency’s investigative costs. Lowe’s has not admitted any culpability in the settlement.

According to AQMD’s clean air plan, all paints and coatings are responsible for 23 tons per day of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions in the Southland. AQMD’s Rule 1113 prohibits the manufacture, distribution, sale or use of non-compliant coatings in the South Coast Air Basin. 

In recent years AQMD has focused inspections on home improvement retail stores to ensure that paints sold to consumers comply with air quality regulations, the agency said. Earlier this year AQMD reached a $2 million settlement with Walmart for Rule 1113 violations involving sale of non-compliant paints and coatings.

In a prepared statement released by the AQMD, Lowe’s regional VP, Jeff Starnes, said: “Lowe’s takes environmental matters very seriously. We are pleased to have resolved this dispute without litigation and look forward to continuing a strong relationship with the AQMD. We will continue to look for opportunities to make our programs even stronger in the future.” 

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