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UMass Lowell's TURI Awards $63,000 in Community Grants

Lowell, MA, September 3, 2008 -- The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell has awarded $63,000 in grant funding to nine Massachusetts community organizations. The projects will raise awareness about the hazards of toxic chemicals and encourage the selection of safer alternatives or methods.

"The variety of toxics covered under these grants, in addition to the depth of the projects, reflects the commitment I've seen in so many communities across the Commonwealth that are determined to create healthier neighborhoods and environments," said TURI Community Program Manager Joy Onasch. "Leaders like these will make a difference for all of us."

TURI awarded grants to the following eight organizations:

  • Brazilian Women's Group, Allston, $15,000. The group will implement the Natural Cleaning in the Brazilian Community Project to educate people who clean homes as well as residents about the hazards of household cleaners and help them convert to less toxic options made from safer ingredients.
  • Wampanoag Tribe, Martha's Vineyard, $15,000. Through its Lead-Free Vineyard Fishing project, the Wampanoag Tribe will promote and distribute non-lead weights made from alternative materials such as steel and natural stones. During the five-week Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby from Sept. 14 to Oct. 19 on Martha's Vineyard, the Wampanoag Tribe will deliver educational materials about the dangers of lead to humans, fish and wildlife along with the alternative weights suitable for ocean fishing. Materials will also be available at local tackle shops.
  • School Disinfection Workgroup, statewide project, $15,000. The workgroup will generate 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 will be created about when it's appropriate to disinfect and when it's not. Materials will also be created for policymakers to encourage long-term change in schools.
  • Viet-AID, Dorchester and Springfield, $7,000. TURI is funding the Viet-AID Healthy Floor Finisher Project for a third year. Viet-AID will expand its successful training program that raises awareness of flammable floor-finishing products and safer products to the Vietnamese community in Springfield. Viet-AID will create a training video about how to apply safer water-based products to encourage more Vietnamese workers across the state to make the switch.
  • Center Pond Weed Project, Becket, $5,000. Rather than using hazardous chemical herbicides, the project will manually pull invasive weeds from Center Pond, a scenic, recreational lake in Becket. Specially trained cold water divers will eliminate the weeds as well as the need for chemicals in the future. The project will also educate other communities about the work and experiences so that others may reduce toxic chemical use in the same way.
  • Townsend Conservation Commission, $4,000. Townsend will continue its Organic Lawn Care Project, which showcases to residents through "green lawns at the Town Hall and library that organic lawn care methods work. In the program's second year of TURI funding, it will expand its reach by partnering with the Nashua River Watershed Association and other Townsend municipal agencies to spread the message about organic lawn care.

TURI also offers a lower level of funding to encourage more community organizations to promote safer alternatives. TURI awarded the following organizations $1,000 each:

  • Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA), Barre, offered scholarships to nine municipal employees or their contractors for the towns of Ayer, Barnstable, Carlisle, Cohasset, Orleans, Pepperell, Sandwich, Stoneham and Townsend to attend a full-day organic lawn and turf course last month in Dartmouth. Attendees learned about organic land management methods.
  • Lowell Green Building Commission will implement a project to increase awareness among local residents and contractors of green building practices, focused on reducing toxics in homes. The commission will develop informational materials, mailings, posters and neighborhood group presentations.

For more information about the TURI Community Grant Program, the TURI Community web site or contact Joy Onasch, at Joy@turi.org or 978-934-4343.