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Local Gymnastics Studio Replaces Foam Cubes with Chemical-Free Alternatives Reducing the Risk of Dangerous Chemical Exposure to Gymnasts

On Friday, December 1, 2023, the Toxics Use Reduction Institute conducted a site visit at Donoma Gymnastics in Stow, Massachusetts. Donoma Gymnastics is one of the latest businesses to adopt safer alternatives to toxic chemicals and was one of six businesses in Massachusetts recognized at the State House this year for reducing their toxic footprint. The business eliminated unnecessary flame retardants from their foam pit cubes providing a healthier environment for children and families while maintaining fire safety. More than 10,000 foam gym pit cubes that contain flame retardants were replaced with new cubes without hazardous chemicals.  The gym received a small business grant from TURI to support the project.

"I am extremely pleased to see Donoma Gymnastics take this important step forward, in using safer materials in their business and moving away from toxic chemicals," said State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Marlborough). "I'm thankful to the efforts of the Toxic Use Reduction Institute in providing funding for this initiative, and I hope to see many other businesses across the Commonwealth take similar steps to make their products and business practices safer for all."

The hazardous flame-retardant chemicals found in the cubes can cause serious health effects and have been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, and neurological damage.

TURI funded a study that examined the exposure of ten gymnasts at a Massachusetts gym before and after switching from flame retardant foam cubes to chemical free alternatives. The study found a 5.4-fold reduction in the levels of flame-retardant chemicals following the switch to the chemical free alternatives.

“We applaud Donoma Gymnastics for leading by example,” said Baskut Tuncak, Director of the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI). “Most parents are surprised to learn that this invisible threat to health exists. We have seen tangible results in studies when gyms switch to safer alternatives. We want to get the word out that safer, healthier options are available and that TURI stands ready to help businesses make the switch to these products.”

“It was an easy decision to work with TURI to find safer solutions for my business,” said Lindsey Kersten, owner of Donoma Gymnastics. “The safety and health of my gymnasts, staff and families is my top priority. As a business owner, parent, and gymnasts, I hope more is done to keep toxic chemicals out of gyms and reduce exposure.”

The entire project to replace the cubes took 10 months to complete. Kersten also worked with the Stow Fire Chief to maintain fire safety.  

In April, TURI will announce another round of grants to provide resources and tools to help businesses and communities in Massachusetts find safer alternatives to toxic chemicals.