The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently presented merit awards to Prof. Ken Geiser of Work Environment and The New England Consortium for protecting the public, workers and the environment from toxic chemicals and hazardous waste.
Geiser, one of the authors of the Toxics Use Reduction Act in Massachusetts, received the Lifetime Achievement Award during a Faneuil Hall ceremony for dedicating his life to the betterment of the environment worldwide. Though he was honored to receive the award, Geiser was quick to recognize others.
“My work has always been supported by many talented and dedicated colleagues, many of whom are at the University,” says Geiser, who directed the Toxics Use Reduction Institute at UMass Lowell for more than a decade and has contributed to chemicals policy and green chemistry research and implementation around the world. “At UMass Lowell, we have played a significant role in changing public and private chemicals policy, locally, nationally and internationally. That is what I am most proud of.”
A world-class scientist and co-director of the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, Geiser is also a respected educator who has been recognized by UMass Lowell with its highest honor, status as University Professor.
The New England Consortium at UMass Lowell, also honored by the EPA, receives funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to train workers in hazardous waste operations, emergency response and health and safety.
“We strive every day to ensure that our program delivers the quality of education and empowerment that our region’s workers, communities and industries deserve,” says Paul Morse, project director of TNEC. “This award recognizes the efforts of so many people that are part of TNEC, including our project staff and partners. It is extremely gratifying to be honored at this time since these awards are given out as part of the annual commemoration of Earth Day.”
The New England Consortium has trained more than 27,000 workers in 1,700 courses, as well as provided custom training programs for employers and regulatory officials. In 2011 alone, the Consortium held 145 courses with 21,985 hours of instruction in its core hazardous waste training program. Experts from TNEC have traveled around the country to sites of environmental disasters, such as the Gulf Coast, to provide emergency training and other assistance. The Consortium’s work also includes partnering with EPA New England to offer training to Native American tribes.
Hoping to expand its good work, the Consortium has developed a curriculum to teach environmental activists how to advocate for “green” chemistry and other safer alternatives. TNEC project partners include:
- Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health
- Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health
- Western Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health
- New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health
- Rhode Island Committee on Occupational Safety and Health
- Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) of New York, Local 1000, Inc., AFSCME