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TURI Presents 2013 Champions of Toxics Use Reduction Awards

Contact: Felice Kincannon, 978-934-3346

June 12, 2013, Boston, Mass. -- State legislators will join UMass Lowell’s Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) today to present the 2013 Champions of Toxics Use Reduction Awards at the Massachusetts State House, Great Hall, 9 to 11:15 a.m.

The awards recognize outstanding leaders who have reduced toxic chemical use in Massachusetts through innovation and outreach. 

“Congratulations to all of the Champions of Toxics Use Reduction Award recipients who are finding innovative ways to make the Commonwealth a safer place to live and work,” said Michael Ellenbecker, professor of Work Environment at UMass Lowell and director of TURI. “By finding safer alternatives to toxic chemicals, you are proof that economic viability of businesses and environmental protection are not opposing forces but do indeed go hand in hand.”

The 2013 Champions of Toxics Use Reduction are:

Industry Champion

ChemGenes Corporation, Wilmington

ChemGenes Corporation continuously implements Toxics Use Reduction (TUR) projects to improve operations, product quality and environmental performance. With the help of a TURI grant, ChemGenes recently installed a new solvent recovery and recycling system that is expected to reduce the use of Hexane and Ethyl Acetate by 27,000 pounds, or 70 percent annually. The supplier of products related to DNA & RNA synthesis for the biotechnology industry gave other companies a tour of its facility, demonstrated how the solvent and recovery and recycling system works and shared the cost savings expected due to reduced chemical purchases, regulatory fees and disposal fees. Working with the state’s Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) since 2005, ChemGenes has implemented many toxics use reduction projects, realizing reductions in use of Chloroform by 55 percent and Hexane by 35 percent and a net savings of more than $215,000.

Small Business Champion

AB Cleaners, Westwood

AB Cleaners eliminated the use of perchlorethylene (perc), a probable human carcinogen, by replacing its perc machine with professional wet cleaning technology. TURI awarded AB Cleaners an incentive grant to help purchase the wet cleaning equipment and a demonstration grant to show other dry cleaners how professional wet cleaning technology allows for “dry-clean-only” clothes to be effectively washed with water and detergent without shrinkage or loss of quality. The owner Joon Han demonstrated the technology to about 30 dry cleaners and other stakeholders, including state and municipal representatives, from across Massachusetts to teach them about the safer process.

Toxics Use Reduction Planner Champion

Jeff Bibeau, Associate at Tighe & Bond, Westfield

Jeff Bibeau has been at the forefront of making Toxics Use Reduction (TUR) a reality in Massachusetts for more than 20 years. As a certified Toxics Use Reduction Planner, he has been an invaluable resource in training new TUR Planners as an instructor in the intensive TUR Planner training course and as a contributor to Continuing Education conferences. He has prepared and certified hundreds of plans in industries as diverse as metal finishing, plastics manufacturing, flexographic printing, paperboard manufacturing, power plants, wire and cable manufacturing and circuit board manufacturing. During his nearly 30 years of professional experience, Jeff has led many projects related to environmental audits, waste site remediation, hazardous waste elimination, air and water permitting and risk management. He is the Group Leader of the Environmental Compliance Group for Tighe & Bond engineering and environmental consultants and a Registered Environmental Engineer. 

Community Champions

Clean Water Fund, Boston

Project: “Educating Dry Cleaning Consumers about Healthier Alternatives”

In partnership with collaborating organizations, Clean Water Fund (CWF) educated consumers across the state on the health and safety of different types of dry cleaning options – including the most widely-used toxic chemical perchlorethylene and safer alternatives such as professional wet cleaning, hydrocarbons and siloxanes. By understanding the health effects of each option, consumers are able to accurately evaluate their local dry cleaning shops and avoid being swayed by “greenwashing.” The team conducted a survey to identify cleaners who are using professional wet cleaning, an advanced technology that allows “dry-clean-only” clothes to be effectively washed with water in computer-controlled machines, and promote these cleaners to consumers.

Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), Boston

Project: “Cleaning for a Healthy Head Start”

The project team’s goal was to eliminate toxic chemical use in Head Start child-care facilities in underserved Boston neighborhoods, contributing to improved environmental health and environmental awareness for low-income children and adults. With its partners, MassCOSH promoted safer cleaning agents and the implementation of toxics use reduction practices. The team established an environmental committee of staff and parents that developed education and outreach strategies. The goal is to develop new, safer cleaning policies at 25 Head Start facilities that will serve as a model that can be easily replicated across the Commonwealth.

Mill City Grows, Lowell

Project: “School Garden Pilot Project”

Mill City Grows has worked to educate the Lowell community about the risks of using herbicides, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in gardening and landscaping. In partnership with the Lowell School Department, the project team planted four garden beds at the Dr. An Wang and Pawtucketville Memorial Schools in Lowell. Students, teachers and parents are growing vegetables, flowers, herbs and fruits that will in turn function as a training and resource center on how to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in gardens. Mill City Grows’ School Garden Pilot is a model for organic food production in the school community setting. Through the documentation of the creation process, as well as training and workshops, the team has created a model that can be replicated at other schools in the City of Lowell and in the region.

Montachusett Opportunity Council (MOC), Inc, Fitchburg

Project: “Green and Clean in North Central Massachusetts”

The project team educated residents in North Central Massachusetts – including the Hmong population, Spanish speakers and low­income individuals as well as professionals working with vulnerable populations – about toxins in cleaning supplies and safer, less expensive alternatives. They conducted workshops with community groups, translated materials into Hmong and Spanish and distributed free samples of safer cleaning products for trial. To increase regional and state-wide impact, MOC presented tips, cleaning product recipes and cost comparisons at the state-wide Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Child Care and Head Start meetings. MOC has also used safer deodorizers and disinfectants in its own WIC program and presented the results to other WIC staff.

Norfolk County 7 Public Health Coalition

Project: “Helping Salons Achieve a Green and Clean Business”

The Norfolk County 7 Public Health Coalition worked with hair and nail salons in the Norfolk 7 area (the towns of Canton, Dedham, Milton, Needham, Norwood, Wellesley and Westwood) to implement safer practices. The project team created a “Green and Clean” certificate standard to encourage salons to make their work environments safer for employees and customers. The certificate now can be awarded to businesses that replace toxics and improve air quality. The salon’s success will be promoted through the press, advertising and social media.