Janine Walsh, left, owner of Walker s Gymnastics and Dance in Lowell, receives the Champion of Toxics Use Reduction Award from Joy Onasch of the Toxics Use
Janine Walsh, left, owner of Walker s Gymnastics and Dance in Lowell, receives the Champion of Toxics Use Reduction Award from Joy Onasch of the Toxics Use Reduction Institute at UMass Lowell. COURTESY PHOTO

BOSTON -- State legislators joined the Toxics Use Reduction Act program at the Statehouse recently to recognize 2018 Champions of Toxics Use Reduction. Two local businesses were named Small Business Champions, at the annual event, which recognizes outstanding leaders who are making the state a safer place to live and work.

Assistant Professor Boce Zhang of UMass Lowell's Biomedical and Nutritional Sciences Department worked with Little Leaf Farms in Devens, named an Academic Research Champion, to help avoid or reduce the use of toxic cleaning chemicals. Little Leaf Farms of Devens purchased a high-pressure washer to remove algae from the gutters where the lettuce grows rather than using harsh chemicals.

Walker's Gymnastics and Dance of Lowell purchased new foam cubes that do not contain flame retardants for two landing pits used in the gym. While the landing pits provide safe, cushioned landing spots as gymnasts train on the equipment, standard foam cubes contain hazardous flame-retardant chemicals that can cause health such effects as endocrine disruption, which is of significant concern to young children.

The Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Act of 1989 is designed to protect public health and the environment while enhancing the competitiveness of Massachusetts businesses.


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