The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell unveiled a new surface cleaning online database called CleanerSolutions. The free, interactive web-based tool helps manufacturers find safer cleaning alternatives that perform as well as hazardous chemicals — without increasing risks.

The brainchild of TURI Manager of Laboratory Testing Jason Marshall, the database is filled with over 10 years of performance testing results combined with health and environment indicators. The system helps companies understand how to choose alternatives so that overall risks to workers and the environment are reduced.

“The reason I developed the database was because I couldn’t imagine manufacturers taking the time to weed through mounds of data to find safer cleaning products,” said Marshall. “If companies can view hard data on how safer industrial and janitorial products perform, then they are more likely to pilot test alternatives and replace the toxic chemicals they may be using,” he continued.

Companies are able to choose the contaminant, solvent to replace, type of equipment and the material that’s being cleaned from a drop-down menu. The search results list possible replacement products, performance test results, and safety information based on five environmental and health indicators. The TURI Laboratory conducts a preliminary screening to determine a chemical’s potential risk based on global warming potential, ozone depletion potential, volatile organic content, flammability/reactivity and acute toxicity.

Since each manufacturer’s process and application are unique, TURI recommends pilot testing the potential replacement found in the database for both safety and performance.

Established by the State’s Toxics Use Reduction Act of 1989, TURI provides research, training, technical support, laboratory services and grant programs to reduce the use of toxic chemicals while enhancing the economic competitiveness of businesses. The TURI Laboratory offers free technical assistance to Massachusetts companies seeking to reduce the amount of hazardous chemicals used for surface cleaning. Services are also available to non-Massachusetts organizations for a fee. Visit the TURI Web site for more information.