April 2014 Newsletter


I hope you are enjoying the spring time. I am just back from DC and appreciating hikes amidst brilliant wildflowers. If you are in Berkeley, you are invited to join me for a hike and also this year’s Himalayan Fair in Live Oak Park on May 17 and 18. More information is below.

Last week, I was honored to receive, along with two of my heroes, Theo Coburn and Pete Myers, a Jean and Leslie Douglas “Pearl Award” for “individuals who, with great tenacity and despite great challenges, remains dedicated to improving the lives of others and to providing a sustainable earth for future generations.”

If you would like to learn more about our work for a healthier planet, click here for our newly designed website or here to view our classic news articles and short videos.

Annalise and I enjoyed a trek in the Annapurna range of Nepal over the December holidays. Following our Science and Policy Meeting in Madrid, I’m looking forward to hiking in Europe during the second week in September, either in the Italian Dolomites or the Polish Tatra Mountains to celebrate the Polish translation of Annapurna: A Woman’s Place. Let me know if you would like more information about possibly joining me.

We wish you a very happy and healthy Earth Day.

Himalayan Fair May 17 & 18, 2014

Please join Annalise and me at this year’s Himalayan Fair in Live Oak Park, 1300 Shattuck Avenue in North Berkeley, California.  You can enjoy the food, music, dance, crafts and arts of the Himalayan regions.
Please stop by our booth under the big tree northeast of the stage to visit and enjoy the entertainment.  Contact me if you’d like to volunteer to help tend my booth.
The fair’s profits go directly to the Himalayan regions as donations to orphanages, clinics, schools, village water supplies, and other Himalayan charities.

I describe starting the Fair after returning from the Great Himalayan Traverse in my memoir “Breaking Trail” . Get in touch if you might like to volunteer to help organize this fun Himalayan community event. More information about the Himalayan Fair is here.

Safer Sofa Foam Exchange ready to begin

Are you considering buying new furniture now that flame retardants are no longer needed? Since most of the flame retardants are in the cushions, a less expensive alternative is keeping your current furniture and replacing the foam in cushions with flame retardant free foam.

A web page with more information is here and you can sign up here to get connected with five foam and upholstery stores in the San Francisco Bay Area participating in our Safer Sofa Foam Exchange. You can bring or mail in your cushions and the flame retarded foam will be swapped out.

Foam collected through our Exchange will be used for scientific research on responsible disposal. Part of the cost of the new foam sales will fund this research and also policy efforts to keep flame retardant furniture out of landfills and low income communities.

Also, furniture without flame retardants is becoming increasingly available. If you are shopping for new furniture, look for a TB117-2013 tag, and verify with the retailer that products do not contain flame retardants. Note that the new standard does NOT ban the use of flame retardants. Here is a list of companies that state they sell flame retardant free furniture.

Arlene Blum - SCIENCE, ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGYFront page article in the Oakland Tribune

The Oakland Tribune (and the Bay Area News Group) just published a great write-up of our recent accomplishments as part of their Home Town Heros Series.

It gives us an almost embarrassing amount of credit for the new California furniture standard, stating that this victory “could improve the health of millions of Americans over time.”

I was also recently honored to be inducted into the Alameda Country Women’s Hall of Fame. Please see the video link to hear more.

Calif. law sparks debate over flame retardants in furniture

Check out our media coverage

Here are some informative news stories relating to changing flammability standards to protect our health:

PBS NewsHour: California law change sparks debate over use of flame retardants in furniture

Huffington Post:“Flame-Retardant Furniture May Leave A Toxic Legacy” 

Dr. Oz show online: The toxic flame retardants in your home right now!

HBO GO: Toxic Hot Seat, a dramatic 90 minute documentary including our work

Burn doctor paid $240,000 for false testimony in support of  flame retardants  

The March 13, 2014 Chicago Tribune reported that a doctor who testified in support of flame retardants in furniture “falsely presented himself as an unbiased burn expert when he was in fact collecting $240,000 from flame retardant manufacturers”.  See the article here and the award-winning Chicago Tribune series exposing the flame retardant industry here.

The great news is that unneeded flame retardant requirements are being defeated; the strategies of the flame retardant industry are being exposed; and we can now buy healthy and fire safe furniture without harmful flame retardants.

Donate now for good science and healthy furniture

Please consider contributing to protecting our health and environment from toxic chemicals by clicking here to give a gift to the Green Science Policy Institute.