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TURI Recognizes Organizations for Making Massachusetts a Safer Place to Live and Work

Boston, June 10, 2009 UMass Lowell's Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) presented its 2009 Champions of Toxics Use Reduction Awards today to three companies, eight community groups and one researcher at a Massachusetts State House ceremony. The annual Awards honor outstanding leaders who have reduced toxic chemical use in Massachusetts through innovation and outreach.

The three 2009 Industry Champions of Toxics Use Reduction Awards are:

Lightolier, Fall River, and Ron Westgate (Toxics Use Reduction Planner)
As early as 1997, Lightolier, a Philips Group Brand, eliminated the use of approximately 1.25 million pounds of trichloroethylene at their Fall River, Massachusetts plant. The company found less toxic alternatives and modified their production process, which eliminated more than 4 million pounds of air emissions, with savings of more than $2 million. Last year, under the new TURA Amendment's "alternative planning" option, the Company prepared a Resource Conservation Plan that resulted in a reduction in water usage by 78 %, saving 70 million gallons per year.

With more than 30 years experience in manufacturing, environmental and project engineering positions at Lightolier, Ron Westgate has also been a Toxic Use Reduction Planner for nearly two decades. He provided early information on the now famous "Lampworks" case study that has been used in TURI's classes to train other companies how to reduce toxics. More recently, Ron developed a case study for the new Resource Conservation training.

Skyworks, Inc., Woburn
Skyworks Solutions is one of the first companies in 2008 to use the Environmental Management Systems (EMS) alternative planning option under the Toxics Use Reduction Act. Skyworks received a grant from TURI to host an EMS workgroup to share their successful experiences with other companies. An innovator of high reliability analog and mixed signal semiconductors, Skyworks has reduced the use of wastewater treatment chemicals (sodium hydroxide) by 30 percent and hydrochloric and sulfuric acids in production by 30 percent. They achieved these reductions between 2006 and 2008 while increasing production by 15 percent - a commendable accomplishment.

Silver Hanger Cleaners, Bellingham
TURI awarded Silver Hanger Cleaners a matching grant to help fund the conversion of their garment cleaning plant to dedicated wet cleaning technology to eliminate the use of perchloroethylene (perc), a chemical likely to cause cancer. This spring, Mark Isabelle, owner of Silver Hanger Cleaners, demonstrated professional wet cleaning technology to about 50 dry cleaners in Massachusetts. He is currently collecting cost and performance data to help TURI analyze the differences between using perc and using professional wet cleaning technologies. TURI will use this information to encourage other dry cleaners to convert to professional wet cleaning.

The University Research Champion is:

Dr. Sanjeev Manohar, Associate Professor and Director of the Green Technology Laboratory, University of Massachusetts Lowell
TURI awarded a $20,000 research grant to Dr. Sanjeev Manohar, Associate Professor and Director of the Green Technology Laboratory at UMass Lowell to design and develop a lead-free nanostructured surface finish develop a lead-free nanostructured surface finish to ensure reliability of solder used on printed circuit boards. Dr. Manohar partnered with regional companies to evaluate the performance of these lead-free coatings as a potential mitigation for tin whisker formation, a common problem when using non-lead materials in electronics.

The Community Champions are:

Natural Cleaning in the Brazilian Community
Brazilian Women's Group, Allston - Project Manager Heloisa Galvao
TURI awarded the Brazilian Women's Group a $15,000 grant to educate Brazilian house cleaners and residents about the hazards of household cleaners and help them convert to less toxic cleaners made from simple ingredients. Since housecleaners are exposed to cleaning products every day, their risk is higher for health issues such as respiratory problems, skin dryness, allergies, headaches, and even loss of nails and hair. The project leaders, Heloisa Galvao and Helen Sinzker, and members of the co-op conducted multiple hands-on training demonstrations and created a video that included testimonials about the benefits of using safer cleaning mixtures from both housecleaners and happy customers.

Healthy Floor Finishing
Vietnamese-American Initiative for Development, Inc., (Viet-AID), Dorchester - Project Manager Hoa Mai Nguyen
TURI awarded Viet-AID a $7,000 grant to expand their successful training program that raises awareness of flammable floor finishing products and safer products to the Vietnamese community in greater Boston. Viet-AID created a training video about how to apply safer water-based products to encourage more Vietnamese workers across the state to make the switch to safer floor sealers.

Lead-Free Vineyard Fishing
Wampanoag Tribe, Martha's Vineyard - Project Manager Jim Miller
TURI awarded the Wampanoag Tribe in Martha's Vineyard a $15,000 grant to distribute non-lead fishing weights during the five-week Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby last fall. Project leader Jim Miller of the Wampanoag Tribe also delivered educational materials to the community to increase awareness about the dangers of lead to humans, fish, and wildlife.

Center Pond Weed Project
Center Pond, Becket - Project Manager Mercedes Gallagher
TURI awarded the Center Pond Weed Project a $5,000 grant to help fund hand pulling of invasive weeds from Center Pond, a scenic, recreational lake in Becket, rather than using hazardous chemical herbicides. Led by Mercedes Gallagher, the weed pulling was conducted by trained cold water divers that over time will eliminate the weeds and toxic chemical use in the future.

Townsend Organic Lawn Care Demonstration Site
Town of Townsend, Conservation Commission - Project Manager Karen Chapman
TURI awarded the Townsend Conservation Commission a $4,000 grant to continue their second year of the "Organic Lawn Care Project." The pesticide-free lawns at the town library and town hall demonstrate to residents that organic lawn care methods work. Karen Chapman increased awareness of the benefits of organic lawn care by partnering with the Nashua River Watershed Association and other Townsend Municipal agencies.

Scholarships to the Organic Lawn & Turf Course
Northeast Organic Farming Association, Barre, MA - Project Manager Kathy Litchfield
TURI awarded NOFA a $1,000 grant so that they could offer scholarships to nine municipal employees or their contractors from the towns of Carlisle, Cohasset, Ayer, Pepperell, Orleans, Sandwich, Barnstable, Townsend & Stoneham to attend a full day Organic Lawn & Turf Course. Attendees learned about organic land management methods, a replacement for using pesticides.

School Disinfection Workgroup, statewide project
Project Manager Lynn Rose
TURI awarded this state-wide project a $15,000 grant to coordinate a disinfection workgroup. The Workgroup generated information about disinfection, sanitization, and hand hygiene options to reduce the use of unnecessary disinfectants in schools. Since overuse of disinfectants can do more harm than good, easy-to-understand materials were created about when it's appropriate to disinfect, and when it's not. The Workgroup also developed materials for policymakers to encourage long-term change in schools.

Lowell Green Building Commission
Project Manager Aaron Clausen
TURI awarded the Lowell Green Building Commission a $1,000 grant to implement the "Green Building Outreach Focusing on the Reduction of Toxics Project" to increase awareness among residents and contractors in the Lowell area of green building practices. Aaron Clausen and Katie Resnick developed informational materials, mailings, posters, and neighborhood group presentations focused on reducing toxics in homes. Presentations were made to seven neighborhood association groups by Green Building Commission members.

Photos available upon request.