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UMass Lowell's TURI Awards $100K to Community Groups

Projects Will Teach Thousands Across State to Reduce Toxic Chemicals Used in Household Cleaning, Nail Salons and Lawn Care

Sept. 21, 2011, Lowell, Mass. – UMass Lowell’s Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) awarded $25,000 each to four Massachusetts community organizations for educating the public about safer products to avoid the negative health effects of toxics used in nail salons, cleaning products and on lawns.

New this year is that all four projects move beyond one community and reach a regional or statewide audience to educate hundreds of thousands of people from Western Massachusetts to Cape Cod about how to reduce toxics in their lives.

“TURI has funded more than 100 community-based projects with great success so it was the perfect time to encourage the expansion of these great ideas,” said Joy Onasch, TURI community program manager. “Everyone can benefit from the workshops, demonstrations, tips and how-to videos that the groups develop. These leaders will share their secrets with thousands of people across the state to protect the health of everyone, especially children, the elderly and small-business workers.”

TURI awarded $100,000 in grants to the following organizations:

Brazilian Women’s Group (BWG), Allston, “Wiping out Toxics Use in Housecleaning,” $25,000

The BWG will partner with the Brazilian community media to communicate the health effects associated with prolonged exposure to toxic cleaning products. The project team will conduct training sessions in Portuguese and English that demonstrate how to mix cleaning solutions using safer ingredients. Training will be conducted across the state, from Springfield to Cape Cod. TV and radio broadcasts will promote the use of safer cleaning products, reaching thousands of Brazilians who work in the cleaning industry.

Montachusett Opportunity Council (MOC), Inc, Fitchburg, “Green and Clean in North Central Mass,” $25,000

Serving 30 cities and towns, MOC will reach approximately 2,500 individuals, including seniors and parents of young children, about toxins in household cleaning products and safer, less expensive alternatives. They will hold workshops, educate Head Start families and day-care providers and distribute free samples of the safer products for trial. They will also host a Green and Clean symposium for regional stakeholders that will include municipalities, housing authorities, schools and janitorial companies. 

Norfolk County 7 Public Health Coalition, “Greening Nail Salons for Employees and Communities,” $25,000

The coalition’s goal is to raise awareness of toxic chemical exposure in nail salons, focusing on promoting safe product use and behavior. The group will host a regional conference to educate nail shop owners and workers about the health effects of toxics such as acetone, formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate and more. They will deliver free samples of less toxic alternatives during site visits to encourage owners to try, and then switch to, the safer products. The Norfolk County 7 towns that are participating in this project include Canton, Dedham, Milton, Needham, Norwood and Westwood.

Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, “Creating Safeground: Transitioning Western Mass. Parks to an Organic Land Care Management Plan,” $25,000

Designated areas in five municipal parks in Hampshire and Hampden counties will transition from the use of synthetic petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides to organic practices and materials. These parks – School Street Park in Agawam, Look Park in Northampton, Greenwood Park in Longmeadow, Town Center Park in Ludlow and Wistariahurst Museum grounds in Holyoke – attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year making it the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the benefits and beauty of organic lawn care. The project team will create public education workshops, a “how-to” video, public service announcements, lawn flags and banners to protect the health of children, adults and pets in Western Massachusetts. The ultimate goal is to spur statewide adoption of practices that reduce or eliminate synthetic fertilizer and pesticide use on all public grounds throughout Massachusetts.

This is the 17th year of the TURI Community Grant Program, which has awarded more than $850,000 to Massachusetts community and municipal organizations to make the Commonwealth a safer place to live and work.