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October 17, 2008

Contact: Karen Angelo 978-447-1438

UMass Lowell Center Unveils First-Ever Comprehensive
U.S. State Chemicals Policy Database

Influx of new policies reflects public concern about toxics in everyday products

Lowell, MA – The Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts Lowell launched a new State Chemicals Policy Database for legislators, policy makers, researchers and advocates that houses more than 700 state and local legislative and executive branch policies from all 50 states from 1990 to the present.

The Lowell Center’s 15-month research identified chemical policies that have been enacted, proposed and unsuccessful through interviews with state agencies and reviews of policy and legislative information.

Mounting scientific studies revealing new evidence of the buildup of some chemicals in ecosystems and people, and rising public concern about toxic chemicals in everyday products, have driven recent reform efforts in many states. The research found that debates about broad chemicals policy reform measures are taking place in at least eight states. Many other states and localities have initiated legislative or executive branch actions to restrict specific chemicals, provide information on chemical hazards, require “green” purchasing and support innovation in pollution prevention.

“With all of the recent evidence uncovering links between hazardous chemicals and disease, more and more state legislators and agencies are eager to know what other states have done on chemicals policies so that they can avoid past mistakes and learn from successes,” said Adam Schafer of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. “Before this database, this was no easy task. I believe this tool removes a major roadblock in spearheading new legislation and hopefully creating models for updating future federal policies.”

For each policy, the online search tool at www.chemicalspolicy.org/uslegislationsearch.php provides a brief description, the policy type, specific chemicals and products addressed by the policy, the status and a link to the full text of the policy.

“In the absence of any federal action to overhaul the 30-year-old federal chemicals policy system, state and local governments have stepped up to the plate and become vital laboratories for shaping innovative chemicals policies,” said Joel Tickner, associate professor at UMass Lowell and director of the Chemicals Policy Initiative of the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production. “With centralized access to these policies, more states can now move at a thoughtful yet faster pace that will hopefully lead to an eventual breakthrough at the national level to secure a safer and economically viable life for all.”

About UMass Lowell
UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. UML offers its 12,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education. www.uml.edu.

About the Lowell Center
The Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at UMass Lowell uses rigorous science, collaborative research and innovative strategies to promote communities, workplaces, and products that are healthy, humane, and respectful of natural systems. The Center is composed of faculty, staff, and graduate students at the University of Massachusetts Lowell who work collaboratively with citizen groups, workers, businesses, institutions, and government agencies to build healthy work environments, thriving communities, and viable businesses that support a more sustainable world.