The Lowell Center for Sustainable Production conducts research, develops practical tools and concepts, engages strategically with diverse groups, and most importantly, spearheads change. Over the past several months, the Lowell Center advanced initiatives in many areas—from leading the effort to develop a set of generational goals for a common future to advising the United Nations in advancing precautionary chemicals policies. Following is a sample of these activities.
Developing Health and Environment Goals for the Next Generation
We led an effort to develop Generational Goals to ensure health and well-being for future generations and the natural world. These are goals that, with sufficient will, can be accomplished within one generation. Over 100 leaders of environmental, labor, healthcare, community, and agricultural organizations participated in creating the goals as well as priority actions that will help us meet the goals.
Promoting Precautionary Chemicals Policies
We continue to advance research and policy development for chemicals policy reform in many U.S. states. We have collaborated with environmental health advocates, forward-thinking businesses, labor representatives, and government officials to create state policies and institutions that promote precaution, innovation, and green chemistry. For example:
- We developed an action plan for the State of Michigan to implement a green chemistry executive directive.
- We researched chemicals management practices for True Textiles and United Technologies Corporation.
- We were commissioned by the International Joint Commission to co-write the report The Challenge of Substances of Emerging Concern in the Great Lakes Basin: A Review of Chemicals Policies and Programs in Canada and the United States.
Reducing Risks to Home Healthcare Workers
We have conducted one of the country’s largest studies of the risks related to needlestick injuries among home healthcare workers. The project, funded by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), has been conducted in close collaboration with major home healthcare providers and unions in eastern Massachusetts. The study has both quantified the risks and provided significant insights about working conditions of this rapidly growing but under-studied workforce. Home healthcare agencies have begun to incorporate our recommendations for improving workplace safety.
Identifying Chemicals that Cause Asthma in Massachusetts
The Lowell Center collaborated with the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) to research the extent to which chemicals that can cause or exacerbate asthma are being used by Massachusetts industries who report under the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) program. We identified several promising directions for prevention of future cases of asthma. This is the first analysis of its kind in the country, and has implications for government and private sector decision makers.
Facilitating a City-Wide Centralized Referral System for Asthma Home Visits
With the City of Boston, the Lowell Center is leading an effort to coordinate home visit programs for asthma to reduce environmental triggers and enable health care providers to easily refer people to these programs. Project goals are to increase access to home visits for people whose asthma is out of control, and attract reimbursement by health insurers. The project is part of the EHP’s initiative to incorporate preventive measures into standard health care delivery and ensure financing for such programs. This is the first such city-wide effort in the U.S.
Promoting Green Chemistry in States and Universities
The Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (the GC3 is facilitated by the Lowell Center) in partnership with the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable developed a report Growing the Green Economy through Green Chemistry and Design for Environment: A Resource Guide for States and Higher Education. The report offers guidance to state governments and policy researchers developing policies on chemical and material selection, and offers options for states to promote research, development, and use of these approaches.
Promoting Green Cleaning
The Sustainable Hospitals Program released Cleaning in Healthcare Facilities: Reducing Human Health Effects and Environmental Impacts at this year’s CleanMed global conference on environmentally sustainable healthcare. The Lowell Center is increasingly recognized as a center of technical and policy expertise on cleaning issues in healthcare and industry.
Convening International Workshop on Alternative Assessment Methods
At the request of the International POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) Elimination Network, the Lowell Center organized an international workshop on the potential role of alternatives assessment methodologies in the POPs Convention.
Establishing an Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2)
We coordinated the effort to establish an Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2). Ten states have now formally joined the effort. The IC2 would be a new and much-needed entity for collaborating and sharing information among state and local governments implementing industrial chemicals management policies. The Clearinghouse will also support environmental advocates promoting new chemicals policies as well as businesses moving towards inherently cleaner alternatives to toxic chemicals.
Testifiying as Experts to the President’s Cancer Panel
Two Lowell Center faculty—Adjunct Professor Dick Clapp and Lowell Center Co-Director David Kriebel—were called to testify before the President’s Cancer Panel about the state of the evidence on chemicals linked to cancer. The panel reports to the President of the United States on the development and execution of the National Cancer Program.