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2016 Champions Recognized at State House Ceremony

Contact: Karen Angelo, 978-430-6303

June 8, 2016, Boston, Mass. – State legislators joined the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) program today to recognize 2016 Champions of Toxics Use Reduction at the Massachusetts State House. The annual event recognizes outstanding leaders who are making the Commonwealth a safer place to live and work.

"Change is not easy but these leaders are finding safer solutions that protect health and the environment, while improving competitiveness," says Michael Ellenbecker, director of the Toxics Use Reduction Institute at UMass Lowell. "While the TURA data shows us that companies continue to reduce toxics use, it’s these stories of success from companies, municipalities, communities and researchers that continue to inspire us."

The 2016 Champions of Toxics Use Reduction are:

Industry Champion

Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics in Norwood, an innovator in implementing proactive chemicals management systems, leads the TURI Peer Mentoring Workgroup to share their lessons learned with industry peers. Other businesses participating in the workgroup include Waters Corporation, Gentex Optics, Analog Devices, and Entegris, among others. The company is also currently partnering with UMass Lowell faculty to develop safer surfactants for one of their primary products to eliminate the use of a chemical of concern.

Small Business Champions

Merrimack Ales in Lowell tested electrochemical activation technology for cleaning and sanitizing equipment used during the beer brewing process. The safer technology could eliminate, or greatly reduce, the use of caustic sodium hydroxide used for cleaning and the acids used for sanitization. Merrimack Ales and TURI are conducting further testing to maximize effectiveness.

Mike’s Auto Body in Fall River has reduced the use of lead, solvents, acids and other toxic chemicals by using safer alternatives for wheel weights, wheel cleaning, paint gun washing, brake cleaning and general degreasing.

Rainbow Bears Child Care Center and WORD Inc. Child Development Center in Fall River are switching to using safer cleaning, sanitizing and disinfection products and methods. Both day care centers also worked with Bentley University to reduce flame retardants and phthalates that can be found in nap mats and plastic toys.

Academic Research Champion

Assistant Professor Christopher Hansen of UMass Lowell, a material scientist, has worked with TURI to develop safer alternatives to some of the most challenging toxics, including styrene, hexavalent chromium and high volume solvents.

Municipal and Community Champions

Bentley University, “Safe, Healthy, Affordable, Responsible Environments (SHARE) for Early Childhood Education.” The project team helped to reduce exposure of children to phthalates and flame retardants, classes of chemicals known to disrupt hormones. The chemicals are typically found in plastic toys, sleeping mats, cushions and other products used in childcare centers. The project team worked with several childcare facilities to investigate and pilot more environmentally preferable options. They collected data on product testing results, the cost of product replacement and the childcare providers’ awareness of environmental health and chemical exposure issues. The results will be used to help other Massachusetts early childhood education facilities implement toxics use reduction plans to protect the health of children. 

Greenfield Health Department, “Go Green Safer Sanitizers for Food Service.” The project team helped to reduce toxics use in food service by sharing information on certified green cleaning products, practices and benefits. The Health Department held public and private information sessions with food establishments to introduce alternative less toxic sanitizers and cleaners. They worked with the TURI Lab to compare the effectiveness of greener sanitizers versus traditional sanitizers, which helped to convince restaurants to make the switch.

Town of Natick, ”Pesticide Reduction in Residential and Municipal Land Management.” Town of Natick’s Land Facilities and Natural Resources team piloted pesticide-free organic land care practices on three municipal properties – the Bacon Free Library, Memorial Elementary School soccer field and the new John J. Lane Park. After they monitor the pilot properties for two years, the project team will use the data to transition the town’s additional 67 acres of school properties, playing fields and other lands. The team also educated residents and landscape professionals by hosting a garden tour and workshops on organic lawn care.

Silent Spring Institute, Newton, “Reducing Reliance on Flame Retardants Used in Gymnastic Facilities.” The project team investigated fire standards and flame retardant alternatives to polyurethane foam cubes used in gymnastics facilities. Flame retardant chemicals, which have been found in gymnasts, have been linked to thyroid disruption, memory and learning problems, early puberty, reduced fertility and cancer. Researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute tested the safer alternatives in the Fire Protection Engineering Laboratory. Results were shared with gym owners, fire marshals, industry, gymnasts, coaches and parents.

YWCA of Lowell, “Girls Going Green- Naturally Beautiful.” The project team held workshops and events for teenagers about safer beauty and personal care products. A team of YWCA youth leaders offered the trainings that emphasized creating your own cosmetics, eating well and exercising. The project team reached out to other community partners in Lowell and regionally to share information about toxics in cosmetics and recipes for making safer products.

About the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) Program

The Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) of 1989 is designed to protect public health and the environment while enhancing the competitiveness of Massachusetts businesses. Under TURA, companies that use large amounts of toxic chemicals are required to report chemical use and conduct toxics use reduction planning every two years. Companies benefit from the joint efforts of three agencies – the Toxics Use Reduction Institute, the Office of Technical Assistance and Technology and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection – that provide training, grant funding, free confidential technical assistance, research and regulatory guidance.


Statehouse 2016 Photo Gallery