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TURI Funds $75,000 in Community Grants to Reduce Toxic Chemical Use

Projects Promote Safer Alternatives Used in Land Care, Art Studios, Beauty Products and Food Service

Sept. 27, 2013, Lowell, Mass. – UMass Lowell’s Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) awarded $75,000 to five Massachusetts community organizations to educate the public about safer products used in land care, art studios, cosmetics and more.

“Each year, the community projects get more interesting and innovative,” says Joy Onasch, TURI community and small business manager. “These groups are educating adolescent and teenage girls, artists, gardeners and the general public about toxics used in everyday life and promoting safer alternatives.”

TURI awarded grants to the following organizations:

La Chic Mentoring Plus, Inc., Beverly, “Healthy Girls Model Healthy Products,” $9,950. The project team will develop a curriculum for middle and high school girls about safer beauty products. They will present the materials during the “Healthy Girls Model Healthy Products” after school program sessions and during a fashion show at the Boys and Girls Club of Lynn. The team leaders, who mentor at-risk girls, will present informational material and provide safer beauty products for the teens to try. La Chic will also present the project at the American Chemical Society conference.

Full Circle Earth Greenhouse and Farm, Woburn, “Healthy Communities Initiative: Pesticide Use Reduction through Promotion and Practice of Organic Land Care Principles,” $6,500. The Full Circle Earth project team will educate more then 100 community members on organic land care methods. Through workshops and community events in Beverly, Wakefield and Woburn, the team will help the public achieve healthy lawns and landscapes without the use of pesticides or harmful fertilizers. These workshops will explain how to rejuvenate the soil through microbes that will strengthen plants to resist pests. They will also demonstrate compost tea brewing, give away easy-to-use kits and show documentaries on the harmful effects of pesticides.

Franklin Regional Council of Governments, Greenfield, “Green Cleaning for Food Service” $18,881. The project team will reduce toxics use in food service by compiling information on certified green cleaning products, practices and benefits and then distributing that information during routine public health inspections of commercial and institutional kitchens. The project team will develop a pre-survey of the current cleaning and disinfection products and practices used in food service operations and restaurant kitchens in Franklin, Hampshire and Berkshire counties in Western Massachusetts. They will develop a “Keep it $imple Guide to Green Cleaning in Food service” and distribute it to food service establishments during health inspections. The team will provide “Introduction to Green Cleaning” training to food service operators both on-site and on-line.

Barnstable County Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, “Hidden Hazards in the Art Studio Educational Outreach Program,” $20,000. The project team will share information about toxic chemicals in art supplies and safer alternatives with municipal and state organizations responsible for the oversight of hazardous materials. They will in turn share the information with artists and the general public. The project team will also create a video and a PSA about the dangers of toxins in art materials. Common toxics found in art supplies include solvent, lead, cadmium, chromium, heavy metals and hydrochloric acid.

Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition, “Cancer-Free New Economy Jamaica Plain: Integrating Toxics Reduction Approaches with Sustainable Community Development,” $20,000. The Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition is a community-based effort to strengthen community resilience and support the transition to a sustainable and equitable economy. The goal of this project is to pilot an approach for promoting toxics use reduction as a fundamental strategy for elevating business and community practices to reduce toxic exposures on our way to a cancer-free and prosperous neighborhood and economy. The project team will develop methods and materials to encourage a community conversation about the use of carcinogens at a local level. They will hold a workshop on strategies to eliminate carcinogens and identify 20 individual businesses that may be interested in transitioning away from carcinogens and using safer alternatives.