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UMass Lowell's Toxics Use Reduction Institute Honors Champions at Massachusetts State House Recognition Ceremony

UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan (right) with the Director of TURI Michael Ellenbecker.

Contact: Karen Angelo , 978-447-1438
Boston, June 10, 2008 - UMass Lowell's Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) presented its 2008 Champions of Toxics Use Reduction Awards today to three companies and five community groups at a Massachusetts State House ceremony.

The annual Awards ceremony headlined by UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan, honors outstanding leaders who have reduced toxic chemical use in Massachusetts through innovation and outreach.

"These companies and community organizations have taken on the challenge of finding safer alternatives to toxic chemicals," said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. "What really sets them apart is their willingness to share their knowledge with other companies, groups and the public. And in the end, we all benefit."

The three winners of the 2008 Industry Champions of Toxics Use Reduction Awards are:

Rose Perkins (Toxics Use Reduction Planner) and Rohm and Haas Electronics Materials, Marlborough
As Manager of Sustainable Development at Rohm and Haas, Rose Perkins has been an active and engaged Toxics Use Reduction (TUR) Planner for more than 15 years, and has a wealth of experience in all forms of TUR for industry. Recently, she has incorporated her knowledge of TUR planning into her company's overall sustainability efforts. Toxics use reduction planning is a powerful tool in a company's sustainability tool box, and Rose has led the way in demonstrating the value with solid results.

Rohm and Haas Electronic Materials received a demonstration site grant from TURI to showcase to other Massachusetts companies innovative ways the Company significantly reduced its energy consumption. For two days, the Company hosted nearly 100 people who learned how they used green chemistry-based process modifications thereby reducing the need for thermal oxidation of air emissions in its pilot plant. The Company estimates the expected annual savings from this project to be 16,000 MMBTU of natural gas, and almost 1000 metric tons of CO2 equivalents in green house gases.

Gentex Optics, Dudley
Gentex Optics served as the host of an Environmental Management System (EMS) workgroup that helped the following Massachusetts companies implement an EMS: Callahan Company, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Webco Chemical Corporation, and GEM Gravure Co. Gentex is improving their system to meet the new Toxics Use Reduction Act EMS criteria.

Environmental innovation was first evident in 1996 when Gentex eliminated the use of Freon in their lens cleaning operation. Volatile Organic Compound emissions from this process were reduced by up to 90 percent through installation of bio-filtration. The Company has reduced water use by 4.5 million gallons per year or 34%, and this year, energy conservation efforts will achieve an impressive 2.2 million kWh per year reduction! The employee driven Turn-It-OFF energy campaign resulted in employee awareness, pledges, and energy saving ideas for the manufacturing facility.

Silver Hanger Cleaners, Bellingham
Silver Hanger Cleaners converted their dry cleaning plant to dedicated wet cleaning technology to eliminate the use of perchloroethylene (perc), a probable human carcinogen classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Mark Isabelle, owner of Silver Hanger Cleaners for 14 years, renovated his store at 5A Mechanic Street, removed the perc machine, and installed wet cleaning equipment, a safer alternative that allows "dry-clean-only" clothes to be washed with water and detergents in computer controlled machines. Soon he will be offering the most environmentally friendly cleaning option to his customers. Mark Isabelle is an excellent role model for other Massachusetts dry cleaners and a leader in his industry. He will collect cost data and analyze the differences between using perc and using wet cleaning technologies. TURI will use this information to encourage other dry cleaners to convert to professional wet cleaning. Within the year, he will host a demonstration at his site to encourage more Massachusetts cleaners to make the switch.

The Five Winners of the 2008 Community Champions of Toxics Use Reduction Awards are:

Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, Barnstable
The Cape Cod Cooperative Extension implemented the "Stop the FLARE up in Water Contamination" project to prevent contamination from perchlorate in flares to ground and surface water in and around the Cape Cod area. LED flares are a new viable non-chemical alternative and were distributed to police and firefighters free of charge and to boaters at a discounted rate. The Cooperative developed a video that demonstrates how LED flares work and communicates the hazards of perchlorate to the Cape's sole aquifer drinking water supply. Municipal public safety departments, boaters, and boating safety groups were reached through trainings and tradeshows to encourage replacement of perchlorate flares with LED technology.

Worcester Youth Center
The Worcester Youth Center implemented the "Safe Products in Neighborhoods (or SPIN)" project to increase awareness among lower income inner city youth about harmful chemicals found in household products. The Center educated peer youth leaders about the health effects of toxic chemicals found in cosmetics and cleaning supplies and how to identify safer products and methods. These eight peer youth leaders then educated over 100 teens who took the message of safer products home to their families. The peer youth leaders also coordinated a community event where they provided samples of safer alternatives and worked with the local cable station to develop an educational TV commercial about the hazards of products being used at home.

ECOprojects, Lynn
TURI awarded ECOprojects a community grant to implement the "Healthly Homes - Healthy Bodies" project to help Lynn asthmatics live healthier lives. ECOprojects developed a user-friendly Toxics Use Reduction Primer that identified chemical hazards in common household products and ways to reduce the associated asthma triggers. They trained twenty "heads-of-households" on how to find safer products and hosted a spring seminar that included asthmatics, residents, and community partner organizations.

Town of Townsend, Conservation Commission
The Town of Townsend Conservation Commission implemented the "Townsend Organic Lawn Care Demonstration Site" project to increase public awareness that organic lawn care practices are effective and safer than using pesticides. The Conservation Commission educated residents by hosting a public seminar at Town Hall, presenting at lawn care seminars and the Townsend Earth Day Celebration, and writing monthly columns in the "Messenger" newspaper. The culmination of the project has been creating organic demonstration sites on the lawns of the Townsend Town Hall and Public Library for all to see firsthand that organic lawn care works.

Vietnamese American Initiative for Development, Inc., (Viet-AID), Dorchester
Viet-AID implemented the "The Healthy Floor Finisher Project" to protect homeowners and floor finishers from the risk of fires and hazardous fumes due to unsafe materials. Viet-AID conducted hands-on training for Vietnamese floor finishers in the Boston area as well as promoted safer product choices to consumers. Viet-AID created a bi-lingual Healthy Floor Finishing website that includes information about safer products and practices, upcoming training and events, and referrals to floor finishers trained in using less toxic products. They provided training and technical assistance to floor finishers about how to market healthier, greener floor finishing to consumers to differentiate their businesses.