Lead paint violations by construction companies, while always a big deal, aren't always a big, public deal. But hit HGTV show Fixer Upper has a giant platform and as such, a regulation violation by Magnolia Homes, the home renovation company owned by the show's co-stars Chip and Joanna Gaines, has received an unusually public resolution.
First contacted in 2015 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after the agency viewed video footage of the show, which showed that lead-safe work practices normally required by the RRP Rule were not being followed, Magnolia Homes took immediate steps to obtain EPA certification and make their practices compliant with EPA rules.
The company was fined $40,000 for violating the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule), which governs the removal of lead paint from older homes, during 33 home renovations portrayed on the television show. In addition, the Gaines are taking a few other steps to make amends as part of their settlement with the U.S. government.
The public resolution of breaking this particular rule is not a bad thing, by the way. A lot of consumers look to Chip and Joanna Gaines' work as examples of good renovation, and lead in paint can cause problems, especially for young children. It's good to see that they're taking the issue of lead-based paint hazards seriously now.
"It's important that consumers and contractors understand that improper home renovation can expose residents and workers to hazardous lead dust," said Susan Bodine, assistant administrator at the EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, in a statement on the agency's website. "Through this settlement, Magnolia is putting in place safeguards to ensure the safety of its renovation work and making meaningful contributions toward the protection of children and vulnerable communities from exposure to lead-based paint."
In addition to the civil penalty, Magnolia Homes is implementing an internal monitoring program so that future renovation projects meet regulations. The company also plans to spend $160,000 to help with lead-paint abatement in high-risk homes in their hometown of Waco, Texas.
And in an episode from their final season, which aired this past March, Chip Gaines talked about the importance of testing an old home for lead-based paint and show how to take some of the precautions required by the EPA. In addition, Magnolia is producing a brief video about renovating homes that contain lead-based paint. With their large social media following, you can expect that video to reach a lot of people.