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TURI Awards Grants to Reduce the Use of Toxics Across Massachusetts

Contacts: Karen Angelo, 978-430-6303, Felice Kincannon, 978-934-3346

Oct. 3, 2016, Lowell, Mass. -- The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) awarded $166,000 in grants to reduce the use of percholorethylene, flame retardants and other toxics used across Massachusetts.

The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) awarded $166,000 in grants to reduce the use of percholorethylene, flame retardants and other toxics used across Massachusetts.

The companies and organizations that received grants will reduce toxics by re-formulating products, substituting safer materials or changing processes.

Safer Laboratory Products

UMass Lowell research faculty are partnering with Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics in Norwood to test new compounds made from sugar and pectin to use in immunoassay lab products. The research project aims to replace octyl phenol ethoxylates, surfactants that are listed by the European Chemicals Agency as substances of very high concern.

Safer Pre-wastewater Treatment

Twin Rivers Technologies in Quincy, a producer of fatty acids used in food, textiles and detergents, will replace sodium hydroxide with a safer alternative by implementing a new wastewater pre-treatment system. The company will purchase and install new equipment and conduct a demonstration for other Massachusetts companies.

Eliminating Flame Retardants in Gyms

Silent Spring Institute in Newton will work with a gymnastic studio to replace flame retardant foam pit cubes with non-flame retardant foam. Silent Spring Institute will measure the change in exposure of flame retardants in gymnasts. The findings, including fire safety test results, will be communicated to fire chiefs and gyms across the Commonwealth.

Safer Cleaning and Disinfection

A number of the projects focus on safer cleaning methods – ranging from household cleaning to dry cleaning and institutional cleaning and disinfection.

• UMass Lowell faculty researchers are partnering with MD Stetson of Randolph to test the effectiveness of cleaners to also disinfect without adding disinfectant chemicals in selected areas of schools, hospitals and other public spaces.

• Belmont Hill Cleaners will replace its dry cleaning machine that uses perchloroethylene, a probable human carcinogen, with professional wet cleaning. The small business will also collect cost and performance data to incorporate into a case study and conduct a demonstration for other dry cleaners in Massachusetts.

• Merrimack Ales, a microbrewery in Lowell, is testing the performance of technologies that use safer and less toxic chemicals to clean and sanitize brewery tanks.

• Groundwork Lawrence is conducting workshops about toxics found in common household cleaners and how to make safer cleaning products. Working with bodegas in the community, Groundwork Lawrence will share home recipes for safer cleaning products made with common household ingredients.

• Square One is reducing exposure of young children and their families in Springfield in hazardous cleaning, maintenance and pest products. This project will include training for Square One staff and parents on how to decrease use of toxic cleaning and pest control materials in homes and at Square One facilities. The project will dovetail with the SHHC community health worker pilot project to combine asthma home visits with referrals to housing remediation resources.

Reducing Solvent Use

• UMass Amherst faculty researchers will partner with Camco Manufacturing of Leominster to test safer formulations for windshield washer products that contain methanol, a volatile organic chemical linked with reproductive toxicity. Massachusetts manufacturers use more than 57 million pounds of methanol.

• Minuteman Press of Foxboro will replace a lithographic off-set press that uses solvent cleaners with a digital envelope press. Green Building The Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst, which opened a new 9,000 square foot environmental education center designed in accordance with The Living Building Challenge, will present a series of programs on safer products used in construction.

Reducing BPA

Press Pass TV in Haydenville will create an educational video on how to reduce exposure to bisphenol-A (BPA), a substance that is used to coat thermal paper store receipts and can interfere with natural hormones. Press Pass TV, which uses media arts to provide meaningful employment and education for youth living in low-income neighborhoods, will distribute the video via social media. 

Reducing Pesticides

Boy Scout Thomas Lebel of Topsfield will build and install bat houses on the Topsfield section of the Rail Trail. By attracting and providing habitat for mosquito-eating bats, the bat houses have the potential to decrease the use of pesticides.