Toxic Use Reduction
Massachusetts is cleaner and safer today than it was a generation ago.
A Success Story from the United States
In the late 1980s environmental health leaders in Massachusetts established Toxics Use Reduction (TUR) as a policy mechanism to promote safer and cleaner production facilities. Toxics Use Reduction builds on the principle of pollution prevention but does so by focusing on the reduction and elimination of the use of toxic chemicals in industrial processes.
This can be achieved through:
- Toxic chemical substitution
- Production process modification
- Finished product reformulation
- Product modernization
- Improvements in operations and maintenance
- In-process recycling of production materials
A material use audit
Each chemical is traced throughout the process to determine if it is discharged to the environment or ends up in the product.
In 1989 Massachusetts enacted the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA), which requires companies to conduct a materials audit to track chemicals that enter and leave the plant. Once the audit is completed, the company then must create a toxic use reduction plan, which shows in detail how the company will reduce the use of toxic materials through process changes, material substitution, and product reformation. TURA established several technical assistance centers to help companies redesign facilities and processes. The Toxic Use Reduction Institute, housed out of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, is now a world leader in helping companies redesign facilities and use alternative materials streams while retaining economic vitality.
The results speak for themselves
Between 1990 and 1999 (Production-adjusted quantity change)
- Companies have reduced toxic chemicals by 41%
- Companies achieved an 87% reduction in toxic emissions
- Companies saved over $15 million while reducing hazards from facilities
Visit the Toxic Use Reduction Institute’s website for success stories, chemical information, and links to TUR resources.
Case Study: Drycleaning — A Toxic Process with Safer Alternatives
Over 80% of the U.S. professional garment cleaning industry today uses the chemical perchloroethylene (“perc”) to clean clothes. Studies have identified ecological and human health hazards associated with perc usage. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has recommended that perc be handled as a human carcinogen, and the Environmental Protection Agency has classified it as a possible human carcinogen. Both workers and consumers are at risk.
Several TURI projects have focused on the development of alternative garment cleaning technologies. These include wet cleaning and the use of liquid carbon dioxide.
For more information please visit: www.turi.org/community/wet_cleaning
How Companies Can Eliminate their Use of Toxic Chemicals. Download fact sheet (.pdf)