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UMass Lowell’s TURI Grants More Than $66,000 to 8 Community Groups

Projects to Reduce Toxic Chemical Use in Lawn Care, Household Cleaning, Personal Care Products, Fishing Tackle and Auto Shops

Lowell, Mass. Sept. 16, 2010 - UMass Lowell’s Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) awarded $66,293 to eight Massachusetts community and municipal organizations to educate workers and the public about the negative health effects of toxics and the availability of safer alternatives.

This is the 16th year of the TURI Community Grant Program, which has awarded more than $750,000 to Massachusetts community and municipal organizations to make the Commonwealth a safer place to live and work.

This year’s grant projects address issues such as lead used in fishing tackle, toxics in cleaning and personal care products and pesticides used on lawns.
“If more people were aware of where toxics are in our everyday lives, I think we’d see a big change in our overall purchasing behavior,” said Joy Onasch, TURI community program manager. “Change is what these groups are all about. From developing educational materials and workshops to distributing safer products, these organizations are on a mission to help people and small businesses make good decisions that effect personal health and our planet.”

TURI awarded grants to the following:

  • Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), “The Boston Safe Shops Project,” $13,341. Building on its existing Safe Shops Project, the BPHC will work with auto body and repair shops to replace products that contain toxics such as toluene and perchloroethylene with a trial of non-toxic, water-based alternatives. Five auto body shops have agreed to try samples of an aqueous paint-gun cleaner and five auto repair shops will implement a water-based brake cleaning system. The results of evaluation surveys and participants’ success stories will be shared to encourage other shops to switch to the safer products.
  • Brazilian Women’s Group, Allston, “Awareness Through Media: Addressing Toxic Use Reduction in the Brazilian Community,” $15,000. This project includes training and a media campaign to spread the word to the Brazilian community, many who work as housecleaners, about less toxic cleaners. The project team will produce a radio talk show led by the members of the Vida Verde Co-Op as an open forum to facilitate the discussion and produce a video clip that will be shown on Globo International Network.
  • Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park, Northampton, “Creating Safeground: Transitioning Look Park Grounds to a Petrochemical and Pesticide-Free Land Care Management Strategy,” $5,000. Team members will transition 35,000 square feet of lawn to organic management. They will involve students from the Smith Vocational School in Northampton, conduct workshops, present at public events and work toward creating a town pesticide policy or bylaw.
  • Groundwork Lawrence, “Healthy Living: Reducing the Use of Toxics,” $14,952. Project leaders will educate 300 community members, including youths, on toxics found in household cleaners and personal care products. They will conduct workshops, distribute materials about safer products and work with the TURI Laboratory on the effectiveness of cleaners made with common household ingredients.
  • Montachusett Opportunity Council (MOC), Fitchburg, “SHoP $MART,” $1,000. Working with the Fitchburg Housing Authority, MOC will host a workshop on safer cleaning products for residents at Green Acres, a low-income housing project in Fitchburg. Participants will learn how to create their own safer cleaning products.
  • Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), Barre, “Organic Lawn Care for Homeowners Workshop Series,” $15,000. This statewide workshop series will take place in 10 locations across the state in the Spring 2011 to teach homeowners how to care for lawns without pesticides. The series will include two “Statewide Organic Lawn Days” in mid-April consisting of three-hour long detailed workshops hosted by NOFA Accredited Organic Lawn Care Professionals. Demonstrations of organic lawns will also be established at various locations.
  • Pelham Public Library, “Pelham Public Library and School Organic Landscape Demonstration Project,” $1,000. Project team members will install an organic lawn at the Pelham Public Library in an area between a main parking lot, school and the library to demonstrate to residents that beautiful lawns are possible without pesticides.
  • Woodville Rod & Gun Club, Hopkinton, “Great Sinker Swap,” $1,000. The Woodville Rod & Gun Club will host a booth at events to inform the public about the toxicity of lead and the need to replace lead sinkers used in fishing with lead-free sinkers. People will be able to exchange lead fishing weights for new lead-free weights. Outreach will take place through newsletters, bait shops and local media.

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 or contact Joy Onasch, Joy@turi.org, 978-934-4343. For more information about the Toxics Use Reduction Institute, visit www.turi.org.

About UMass Lowell
UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. The university offers its 13,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education. www.uml.edu.