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Environmental Research and MA Industry

Organization(s) Massachusetts Office of Technical Assistance
Project Description Drawing on their experience working one-on-one with Massachusetts manufacturers, OTA staff are working with professors at several University of Massachusetts laboratories to help strengthen the relationship between academic environmental research and the needs of Massachusetts industry. An OTA research proposal, based on issues encountered in the field through the course of on-site technical assistance visits, is already accepted and underway at Univ. of MA Boston. Under the direction of Professor John Warner of the Univ. of MA Boston Department of Chemistry, researchers are seeking to identify the mechanism by which lead (in the form of litharge - PbO) acts as a stabilizer in the rubber and plastics used for electrical wire and cable insulation. Currently, underground wire or cable installations require difficult and costly measures in order to prevent groundwater contamination from lead leaching out of the coating material. The researchers hope that the so-called "litharge project" will facilitate the development of easier and less-toxic alternatives to lead-containing insulation. Interest in lead-reduction initiatives, such as the litharge project, has been sparked by new Persistent, Bioaccumulative Toxins (PBT) regulations that will require companies to report lead usage of 100 pounds per year or greater. OTA has identified 15 manufacturers of wire insulation in MA, the combined lead usage of which totals approximately 12 million pounds annually. A non-lead alternative would greatly benefit these companies, and bring a new niche market opportunity to MA manufacturers. OTA is also working closely with Professor Warner to increase awareness, understanding and support of the research and application of "green chemistry" technologies, which seek to mimic the sustainable, low-toxic, self-assembling characteristics of natural processes. On April 6 2001, the EOEA and the Univ. of MA co-sponsored the first-ever MA Green Chemistry Symposium. Speakers included representatives from university laboratories, industry, MA state government and the White House Office on Science and Technology Policy. The Symposium provided an introduction to green chemistry and its relevance to MA industry, with an emphasis on the biotechnology and the plastics and resins sectors. OTA hopes the event will help catalyze further industry-university-government partnership in developing innovative environmental technologies.

Project Contact
Name Stephen George
Phone 617-626-1094
Project Keywords
Industrial Sectors Electronics, Plastics & Resins Industries
Activity Keywords Conference, Research and development
Newsletter Northeast States Pollution Prevention News - Vol. 11 No. 1, Spring 2001


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