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Champions of Toxics Use Reduction Receive Honors at Massachusetts State House Recognition Ceremony

Boston, June 11, 2007--Two companies and seven community groups will be honored on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 at the Massachusetts State House as UMass Lowell's Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) presents its 2007 Champions of Toxics Use Reduction Awards.

The annual Awards honor leaders who have used innovative and collaborative approaches to reduce toxic chemical use throughout Massachusetts.

"The issue these organizations face is that toxic chemicals work," said Director of TURI Dr. Michael Ellenbecker. "When safer solutions are identified, then they are challenged with changing behaviors, whether it be from a company within their supply chain or a floor finisher. I tip my hat to these champions for overcoming these obstacles and hope that others will aspire to replicate their achievements in making Massachusetts a safer place to live and work," continued Ellenbecker.

Two industry champions made significant progress towards finding safer alternatives to lead used in the electronics and wire and cable industries. Seven community projects funded through the TURI Community Grant Program focused on reducing pesticide use on lawns and pests, introducing safer alternatives for fishing sinkers, floor finishing and auto repair shops, and educating union workers.

The winners of the 2007 Champions of Toxics Use Reduction Awards are:

Teknor Apex, Attleboro, MA
Teknor Apex provided valuable insight into UMass Lowell Plastics Engineering Department's research, conducted under TURI's grant program, to find innovative ways to use nanoclays and lead-free formulations for wire and cable applications, an important industry sector in the Commonwealth. The Company also lent expertise to TURI for the "Five Chemicals Study" that led to a scientific and credible assessment of alternatives to DEHP, a known carcinogen and reproductive toxin.

Teradyne, North Reading, MA
A long-time leader of promoting innovative methods and chemistries, Teradyne has openly shared lessons learned that encourages other companies to find opportunities to reduce toxic chemical use. A supporter of Environmental Management Systems, Teradyne has hosted TURI's EMS Industry Peer Mentoring Work Group in the past and is currently co-hosting the work group along with Tyco Electronics. Teradyne's willingness to lend their technical expertise and equipment to the New England Lead-Free Consortium is helping the group identify viable lead-free options for the electronics industry, a necessity for Massachusetts companies to stay competitive in the global marketplace.

Town of Westford Water Department
The Town of Westford Water Department expanded it's "Healthy Lawns for Healthy Families Project" to 13 towns to protect water resources on a regional scale. Project manager Jessica Calijas educated the public about the negative effects of pesticide use on water supplies and safer ways to care for lawns. She raised awareness by working with partners to develop materials and workshops for residents, garden centers, pediatricians, veterinarians, and lawn care providers.

Center for Healthy Homes and Neighborhoods at Boston University's School of Public Health
Pat Hynes of Boston University's "Integrated Pest Management Educator Training" focused on educating public housing managers and residents on safer ways to eliminate pests rather than using dangerous pesticides. Public housing residents, building managers, and pest control contractors in Boston, Cambridge, Waltham, Fall River and Lowell were trained on safer strategies to control pests, such as source reduction and habitat modification.

Boy Scout Troup 5, Great Blue Hill District of the Boston Minuteman Council--Michael Browne, Milton, Massachusetts (Eagle Scout Project)
For the first time, TURI awarded a Youth Grant. Fifteen-year old Michael Browne worked on the "Lead Fishing Weight Exchange Project" to earn his Eagle Scout rank. Michael developed and distributed educational materials to 500 Boston area Boy Scouts, families and area residents about the dangers of lead to wild game, birds and fish. He attended local fishing derbies where he distributed brochures, talked to people about safer alternatives and offered lead-free fishing sinkers in exchange for lead sinkers. He is close to his goal of removing 40 to 60 pounds of lead from use in recreational fishing.

Boston Public Health Commission
The Boston Public Health Commission extended their "Safe Auto Shops" program to auto repair shops in Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan. Project Leader Tiffany Skogstrom educated shops about safer alternatives to perchloroethylene (Perc)-based aerosol brake cleaners and worked with auto body and paint shops to replace toluene, xylene and acetone used to clean paint spray guns. Six Boston auto shops and vocational schools made the switch to less hazardous materials. Two shops performed before and after air quality sampling to demonstrate the need for safer working conditions. Each participating shop received a banner to promote their business as using less toxic chemicals to create a safer workplace and neighborhood.

Town of Watertown Health Department
The Town of Watertown Health Department implemented the "Auto Shop Alternatives Project" to train auto shop owners in Watertown about using safer alternatives. Project Coordinator Rebecca Williams conducted health and safety training at selected auto shops and then provided the shops with alternative brake cleaners and lead-free wheel weights to pilot test their performance. Shops that switched to safer alternatives received a banner to promote their business as using less toxic chemicals to create a safer workplace and neighborhood.

Vietnamese-American Institute for Development (Viet-AID), Dorchester
After house fires killed three Vietnamese floor finishers three years ago, research found that the use of highly flammable lacquer sealers caused the fires. The goal of the "Healthy Floor Finishing Project" is to educate Boston-area Vietnamese workers about safer alternatives. Project Coordinator Hoa Mai Nguyen trained 40 Vietnamese floor finishers in two hands-on sessions where demonstrations proved that safer water-based floor finishing products worked just as well as the lacquer products. Outreach efforts have included a range of media such as Vietnamese newspapers, radio, cable, and the distribution of videos of the training sessions.

MassCOSH, Dorchester
A survey administered to 20 union members found that many lacked hazard information about the full range of chemicals used on the job and have little input into decisions about chemical substitutions. To educate workers from the building trades, manufacturing and public works, project manager Tolle Graham implemented the "Union Toxics Use Reduction Capacity Building Project." She developed training materials and conducted seminars about toxics use reduction techniques for the people who use the chemicals.

Editor's Note: Photos available upon request. For more information, contact Karen Angelo at 978-447-1438, karen@turi.org