Fixer Upper Fined $40K by the EPA for Lead Paint Violations

updated Jul 15, 2020
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(Image credit: Magnolia Market)

If you’ve ever watched an episode of Fixer Upper and wondered, “Huh, I guess they don’t have lead paint in Texas?,” you’re not alone. One such viewer happened to be an EPA employee—and now the Gaineses are on the hook for $40,000 in lead paint violation penalties.

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it had settled with Chip and Joanna Gaines’s company, Magnolia Homes, for violating rules related to lead-based paint. In addition to a $40K fine, the Fixer Upper stars have agreed to produce a series of lead paint-awareness “bonus content” for their companion channels (launching on July 5th), including a video with Chip that shows fans how to make their homes lead safe.

The EPA reviewed video footage of several seasons of “Fixer Upper” and found that in 33 of the Waco, Texas homes renovated on the show it “did not depict the lead-safe work practices normally required,” according to the agency’s website.

As any urban renter probably knows, from being required to sign a lead paint awareness waiver, many homes and apartments built before 1978 contain lead paint. The EPA’s Residential Property Renovation Rule—also known as the “Renovation, Remodeling and Painting Rule” (RRP Rule)—implements a provision that Congress added to the Toxic Substances Control Act to ensure that home renovations would not expose occupants to dangerous levels of lead from the lead-based paint. The “RRP Rule” requires anyone performing renovations for compensation in such homes to use specific precautions, including lead safe work practices, to reduce the risk of exposure to lead, unless they document and test building components prior to renovation and the results demonstrate less than the regulated concentration of lead.

If you live in a home that was built before 1978, the chances of it having lead-based paint are 7 out of 10 and get higher as the age grows. If it remains undisturbed under years of layered paint then it causes absolutely no harm, but if you are planning on sanding or tearing things down it’s best to know how to do things correctly so it’s safe for you and your family.

If you’re doing a home renovation on a home built prior to 1978 and curious about how to proceed safely (and legally), Apartment Therapy contributor Alysha Findley wrote this piece about how she became an EPA lead-safe renovator.

We also have guides on Lead 101: Federal Requirements, How to Test for Lead Paint in Your Home, and What To Do When You Discover Lead Paint.

Beware of restoring or upcycling painted furniture and building materials, as well—even that vintage bar cart!