New Online Database Helps Manufacturers Choose Safer Chemistries

09/28/2006
By For more information, contact media@uml.edu or 978-934-3224

 Also Contact: Karen Angelo, (978) 447-1438, karenangelo@comcast.net

LOWELLߞ;The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell unveiled today a new surface cleaning online database called CleanerSolutions. The free, interactive web-based tool helps manufacturers find safer cleaning alternatives that perform as well as hazardous chemicals--without increasing risks.
        The brainchild of TURI Manager of Laboratory Testing Jason Marshall, the database is filled with over 10 years of performance testing results combined with health and environment indicators.  The system helps companies understand how to choose alternatives so that overall risks to workers and the environment are reduced.
        “The reason I developed the database was because I couldn’t imagine manufacturers taking the time to weed through mounds of data to find safer cleaning products,” said Marshall.  “If companies can view hard data on how safer industrial and janitorial products perform, then they are more likely to pilot test alternatives and replace the toxic chemicals they may be using,” he continued.
        Companies are able to choose the contaminant, solvent to replace, type of equipment and the material that’s being cleaned from a drop-down menu.  The search results list possible replacement products, performance test results, and safety information based on five environmental and health indicators.  The TURI Laboratory conducts a preliminary screening to determine a chemical’s potential risk based on global warming potential, ozone depletion potential, volatile organic content, flammability/reactivity and acute toxicity. 
        William Sweetman, Director of Environmental, Health and Safety Affairs at The Top-Flite Golf Company in Chicopee, Massachusetts, is pilot testing two solutions found through the database.  He has worked with laboratory personnel, as well, to identify alternatives to toxic materials used in the company's golf ball manufacturing process.
 He also searched and found a new process for cleaning equipment parts.  Instead of soaking the parts in solvents for two days and then cleaning them with a wire brush, the company switched to an ultrasonic cleaning process. Sweetman used the database to find solutions that could work best with that technology.  Both solutions will protect workers from current exposures while improving product throughput.
        “Compared to what I’ve used in the past, TURI’s CleanerSolutions database was one-stop shopping,” said Sweetman.  “Because of the very specific search criteria and documented testing results, it quickly brought me down the path of finding a safer process and solution for our unique needs,” he continued.
        Since each manufacturer’s process and application are unique, TURI recommends pilot testing the potential replacement found in the database for both safety and performance.  Visit www.turi.org to access the free database.

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 businesses.  The TURI Laboratory offers free technical assistance to Massachusetts companies seeking to reduce the amount of hazardous chemicals used for surface cleaning. Services are also available to non-Massachusetts organizations for a fee.  Visit www.turi.org for more information.

The University of Massachusetts Lowell, a comprehensive university with special expertise in applied science and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental, and social health of the region. UML offers its 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students more than 80 degree programs in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management; and the School of Health and Environment and the Graduate School of Education.  Visit the website at www.uml.edu.