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TURI Funds $65,000 in Community Grants to Reduce Toxic Chemical Use

Contact: Karen Angelo, 978-430-6303, for more information.

Oct. 16, 2014, Lowell, Mass. -- UMass Lowell’s Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) awarded $65,000 to five Massachusetts community organizations. Project leaders will educate the public about safer ways to care for land, select beauty and cleaning products, and run a business without the use of carcinogens.

“These community organizations will showcase to the public how to prevent exposure to toxic chemicals that are found in everyday products and services,” says Joy Onasch, community and small business program manager. “There are ways to avoid the use of products that cause asthma or cancer. It may be as simple as making your own household cleaner or finding a dry cleaner that doesn’t use solvents.”

TURI awarded grants to the following organizations:

City of Springfield Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management, “Transition of Public Land Management to Organic Land Care,” $20,000 

The project team will develop a plan for the City to adopt organic land practices on six properties – Frederick Harris School grounds, Sweeny Playing Field at High School of Commerce, Forest Park Playing Field, Tree Top Park, Camp Wilder and the terrace at Mason Square. The team will conduct soil analyses, implement management plans for pilot sites, develop bid specifications for materials and labor, create a program budget to implement organic land care practices and conduct training for staff, community groups and municipal partners in Northampton and Holyoke. The city plans to expand organic care practices to 50 school properties and 900 maintained acres of public land.  

Full Circle Earth Greenhouse and Farm, Beverly, “Healthy Communities Initiative: Reducing Pesticide Use through Practicing, Teaching,” $7,000.

Building upon last year’s project, the project team will empower community citizens in Beverly and surrounding communities to reduce pesticide use. They will teach organic land care principles through demonstrations, workshops and screening documentaries on the North Shore. The team is currently building a composting pit at Long Hill Reservation in Beverly that will be used to produce nutrient-rich compost tea, an organic lawn care liquid fertilizer amendment that will be provided to businesses, public works departments and local communities. The public can drop of kitchen scraps and pick up compost tea for their gardens and yards. Partners include the Food Project, Beverly Farmers Market, Whole Foods in Lynnfield, Change is Simple and Henry’s Market in Beverly.

Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition, “Cancer-Free New Economy Jamaica Plain: Integrating Toxics Reduction Approaches with Sustainable Community Development,” $20,000

The Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition will work with retail businesses in Jamaica Plain to pursue toxics use reduction strategies, especially in the areas of cleaning and disinfecting, solvents and pesticide use. The project team will develop and promote municipal policies in Boston and other Massachusetts communities that advance toxics use reduction in dry cleaning and other retail establishments. This effort builds upon last year’s project that established the "Cancer Free New Economy," an initiative that helps businesses transition away from using carcinogens and other toxics to safer alternatives. With last year’s grant, they helped J&P Cleaners in Jamaica Plain make the switch from using perchloroethylene, a probable human carcinogen, to the safer alternative professional wet cleaning. As part of this year’s grant, they will support the switch to wet cleaning by encouraging customers, institutional clients and other dry cleaners to use J&P Cleaners’ safer method of cleaning.

The Town of Hudson, “MetroWest Prevention & Wellness Partnership; Healthy Homes Initiative,” $8,000

The Town of Hudson, in collaboration with Framingham, Marlborough and Northborough, aims to reduce household asthma triggers in children by distributing toolkits and materials to families. The information includes how toxics in traditional cleaning products can cause or trigger asthma and safer ways to clean, including making your own cleaning products. The team will make the materials available in English, Spanish and Portuguese. They will use their network in the Prevention Wellness Trust Fund as a means to distribute the information more broadly across Massachusetts, including Worcester, Barnstable, New Bedford, Boston, Holyoke and Lynn.

YWCA of Lowell, “Girls Going Green: Naturally Beautiful Green Cosmetics and Personal Care Products,” $10,000

The Girls Going Green program at the YWCA of Lowell will develop a series of interactive workshops for young people about safer beauty and personal care products. The project team of teen girls will create an informational brochure that explains the toxins that can be found in commercially marketed make-up and personal care products and the benefits of using safer products. They will also provide the tools and information for teens to create their own safer make-up and personal care products at home.