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LOWELL ߝ The Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at UMass Lowell awarded three grants to organizations in Westford, Worcester and Boston to promote safer products and practices used in households, community buildings and neighborhoods.
TURI issued grants to the Town of Westford Water Department, the Regional Environmental Council in Worcester, and the Center for Healthy Homes and Neighborhoods at Boston University’s School of Public Health.
A second-year grantee, the Town of Westford Water Department was awarded $14,000 to continue to build upon its project “Healthy Lawns for Healthy Families.” The goal is to raise public awareness of the effects of pesticides on human health and water resources. Materials and workshops will be developed to educate residents, nurseries, and lawn care providers about using safer alternatives for lawn care. The Water Department will partner with nine neighboring towns--Acton, Ayer, Boxborough, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Groton, Harvard and Littleton--as well as the North Central Regional Solid Waste cooperative located in Groton to promote safer lawn care.
“The value of expanding the TURN grant project to more surrounding towns is that water resources are better protected by reducing pesticide use on a regional basis. These substances move through the environment and are hard to track where they originate, so use reduction is really the best way to ensure that water resources are protected,” said Elaine Major, project manager and Environmental Compliance Manager for the Town of Westford. “In Westford, we’re already building on last year’s success by developing a pesticide policy for the Town that residents will have an opportunity to vote on.”
TURI awarded the Regional Environmental Council in Worcester a $12,000 grant to implement the “Safer Cleaning in Worcester Project.” It targets self-employed workers and janitors who clean inner-city community buildings like churches, multiple-unit housing and gyms. The goals of the project are to educate workers of the occupational health hazards of toxics found in common cleaning products and to introduce safer alternatives.
“We’ve found in our work with homeowners that once they started using safer cleaning products, their allergies and asthma symptoms declined,” said grant project leader and Executive Director of the Regional Environmental Council in Worcester, Peggy Middaugh. “This grant will allow us to expand our program to reach individuals who work with these chemicals eight or ten hours a day, as well as those who visit or work in our inner city buildings.”
The third grant recipient is the Center for Healthy Homes and Neighborhoods at Boston University’s School of Public Health, which received $12,000 to implement the “Integrated Pesticide Management (IPM) Educator Training in Public Housing Project.” The goal is to reduce the use of pesticides to control pests through more effective and environmentally sound pest management. The Center will train Boston, Cambridge and Waltham housing authorities on integrated pest management strategies. Grant project leader Pat Hynes will use an IPM Educator model that she and colleagues developed, tested and evaluated for four years in public housing.
“The most important word in IPM is integrated,” said Pat Hynes, Professor of Environmental Health at Boston University School of Public Health. “What we mean by that is everyone--residents, building managers, housing authorities, and pest control contractors--has a role in preventing pests. We are very pleased to have the opportunity, through the TURI grant, to train other housing developments in the tested IPM Educator model so that more people can live healthier and higher quality lives.”
The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at UMass Lowell provides the resources and tools to help Massachusetts companies and communities make the commonwealth a safer place to live and work. Established by the State’s Toxics Use Reduction Act of 1989, TURI provides research, training, technical support, laboratory services and grant programs to reduce the use of toxic chemicals while enhancing the economic competitiveness of local businesses. Visit www.turi.org to learn more. For more information about the TURN Grant Program, visit www.community.turi.org or contact Eileen Gunn at 978-934-4343, Eileen@turi.org. For more information on UMass Lowell, visit www.uml.edu/media.