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TURI Awards Grants to Small Businesses to Reduce Toxics

Contacts: Karen Angelo, 978-430-6303 or Karen@turi.org or Joy Onasch, 978-934-4343 or Joy@turi.org

December 8, 2015, Lowell, Mass. -- UMass Lowell’s Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) recently awarded small business grants to a brewery, an auto shop and two child care facilities in Massachusetts to encourage the use of safer products.

“Our new small business grant program is intended to make it easier for owners to apply toxics use reduction in their workplaces,” says Joy Onasch, TURI Community and Small Business Program Manager. “We provide technical assistance and funds so that small companies can purchase and test the safer alternatives while evaluating costs.”

Merrimack Ales in Lowell, owned by Adam Pearson, received a grant to test how well chemical activation technology works for cleaning and sanitizing equipment used during the beer brewing process. If effective, the technology could eliminate, or greatly reduce, the use of caustic sodium hydroxide and the follow on acids.

“We are very interested in making our processes safer for us and for the environment,” says Pearson. “TURI is a great resource for us to learn about technologies we didn’t know about and the opportunity to be awarded a grant to pursue this safer alternative is fantastic.”

Auto mechanics are often exposed to lead, solvents, acids and other toxics. Mike’s Auto Body in Fall River received a TURI grant to purchase safer alternatives for wheel weights, wheel cleaning, paint gun washing, brake cleaning and general degreasing.

“We feel that using safer products is the right thing to do,” says Steve Medeiros, customer advocate at Mike’s Auto Body. “We want to make our shop safer for our workers and better for the environment. We think it’s great that TURI is offering this grant program to help us out and that the Office of Technical Assistance in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs gave us information that made us aware of how bad some of these products are and how to make a safer work place.”

TURI also awarded grants to two child care facilities in Fall River – Rainbow Bears Child Care Center and WORD Inc. Child Development Center – to replace cleaning, sanitizing and disinfection formulations with safer products. Both facilities will work with Assistant Professor Ryan Bouldin of Bentley University to reduce flame retardants and phthalates that can be found in nap mats and plastic toys. Bouldin received a separate community grant from TURI to test alternative materials for child care facilities.

All four projects will yield case studies documenting the costs, effectiveness and challenges of the alternatives so that other companies can make informed decisions about switching to the safer products.

About the Toxics Use Reduction Institute

The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell provides research, training, technical support, laboratory services and grant programs to reduce the use of toxic chemicals while enhancing the economic competitiveness of local businesses. For more information about the TURI Community Grant Program, visit TURI’s community web site. For more information about the Toxics Use Reduction Institute, visit www.turi.org.