Environmental champions honored by Toxics Use Reduction Institute

Awards given for reducing toxics in manufacturing, retail, auto repair

BOSTON – State legislators joined the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) program today to recognize 2018 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.

Honorees include community organizations and companies that received grants from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute at UMass Lowell. Companies reduced TCE and lead use in manufacturing, perc in dry cleaning and flame retardants in foam products used in gymnastics facilities.

The community groups worked to reduce BPA and BPS in store receipts, toxics in artificial turf playing fields and solvents in auto shops and in public schools.

“These leaders prove that improving environmental performance protects the public as well as the bottom line,” said Michael Ellenbecker, co-director of the Toxics Use Reduction Institute at UMass Lowell, who welcomed legislators, honorees and their guests at the event in the Great Hall at the State House. “The hard work that these companies, municipalities and communities do to protect public health and the environment is inspiring.”

Speakers at the event included state Rep. Smitty Pignatelli, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture; Daniel Sieger, undersecretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs; and Prof. Joel Tickner of the Department of Public Health at UMass Lowell.

Recognizing outstanding leaders

Community Champions of Toxics Use Reduction include:

  • Don’t Take That Receipt! of Haydenville, a public health and environmental justice group of youths and adults, communicated the dangers of Bisphenol-A (BPA) and Bisphenol-S (BPS) in store receipts. BPA and BPS mimic estrogen and may therefore disrupt development in fetuses, babies and children.
  • The Lawrence Fire Department visited more than 100 auto body and repair shops in the city to encourage owners to use safer products. Toxic chemicals such as lead, toluene and other solvents are found in brake cleaners, degreasers, wheel weights and spray gun washers.
  • The Field Fund, Inc. of Martha’s Vineyard shared their experience of using an organic, regenerative approach to grass playing fields with other communities looking to improve the quality of their playing fields in a responsible way and avoid the installation of artificial turf.
  • Worcester Public Schools identified safer alternatives to maintain buildings and buses. Products that contain toxics include adhesive removers, caulking, lubricants, rust removers, boiler additives, degreasers, lubricants, oils and coolants.

Industry Champions of Toxics Use Reduction include:

  • MSI Transducers Corp. of Littleton, a manufacturer of transducers for commercial and defense applications, improved efficiency and expects to reduce the amount of lead used in the manufacturing, which will in turn reduce lead in the waste stream by approximately 30 percent.
  • Morgan Advanced Ceramics of New Bedford, a manufacturer of ceramic feedthroughs for medical and aerospace industries, eliminated the use of TCE by purchasing a water-based cleaning system. The company reduced the use of TCE by 3,300 pounds and expects to save $10,000 per year.

Small Business Champions include:

  • Auto Technology Shop at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School of Marlboro replaced a solvent-based auto parts washer with bio-based part washing systems. The project team reduced the use of perchloroethylene (perc), a known human carcinogen listed as a Higher Hazard Substance in Massachusetts, and other solvents by 92 gallons per year and saved more than $3,000 annually.
  • Dory Cleaners of Swampscott converted its dry cleaning shop from using perc to professional wet-cleaning technology. This safer alternative allows the small businesses to clean “dry-clean-only” clothes with water and detergents in computer-controlled machines.
  • Gymnastic Academy Boston Norwood purchased new foam cubes that do not contain flame retardants for the landing pit used in the gym. Standard foam cubes contain hazardous flame-retardant chemicals that can cause health effects, especially among children.

Terry McCormack, resident of Raynham and Environmental Health and Safety Manager for Umicore Electrical Materials USA Inc., in Attleboro, received the Toxics Use Reduction Planner Champion award. For more than 14 years, McCormack has applied the toxics use reduction planning process to make improvements at his workplace. He most recently eliminated the use of perc by identifying a safer alternative for vapor degreasing operations at Umicore.

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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 report chemical use to the state and conduct toxics use reduction planning every two years. Companies get help from the joint efforts of three agencies – the Toxics Use Reduction Institute at UMass Lowell, the Office of Technical Assistance and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection – that provide training, grant funding, free confidential technical assistance, research and regulatory guidance.

About UMass Lowell

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 18,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe. http://www.uml.edu

Media Contact
Christine Gillette
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