December 2013 Newsletter


Holiday greetings from Nepal. I am happily touring the magical Kathmandu Valley with my daughter Annalise and our friends. We are looking forward to our nine day long trek in the shadow of the Himalayan giants where our women’s team made the first American ascent of Annapurna I in 1978.

We have had a very productive year at the Green Science Policy Institute. In 2014, we will be focusing on the implementation of the new Californian flammability standard that will allow consumers to choose furniture and baby products that are flame retardant free and fire safe. And we are now extending our successful science and policy approach to reduce the use of the ‘SixClasses’of the most harmful chemicals commonly found in consumer products.  Please write us if you would like to receive monthly updates on our work to bring scientific research to decision makers to protect our health and environment worldwide.

Also, we hope you will consider us as you make your end of year charitable gifts. You can donate online or make your check payable to SEE/GSP and mail to Green Science Policy Institute, P.O. Box 5455, Berkeley, CA 94705.

I am looking forward to a healthy and fun 2014 with less toxic chemicals and more adventures worldwide.

Arlene and the Green Science Policy team

Breaking Trail and Annapurna books, t-shirts and videos for a holiday gift 

For your holiday reading or a gift, consider a copy of the hardback or paperback edition of my memoir Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life. Autographed copies are $27.50 and $14 respectively.

Buy them here

Annapurna a Woman’s Place, and the famous “A Woman’s Place is on Top…Annapurna” t-shirt, Annapurna videos, and Himalayan language courses are also available.

Please order today  for possible delivery by Christmas.

Safer and healthy furniture in 2014

It’s official! Governor Brown announced the news we have all been waiting for – a new and improved furniture flammability standard! Beginning in January, furniture will no longer need toxic flame retardants and we will all be healthier as a result.

Although the new standard can be met without flame retardants, it does NOT ban their use. Look for a TB117-2013 tag on furniture, and verify with your retailer that products do not contain flame, you can find the beginning of a list of places to purchase flame retardant-free furniture. This list should increase rapidly in 2014 with the new flammability standard.

Our media

1) Nicholas Kristof on toxic couches in the Sunday November 24 New York Times Opinion section

2) Toxic Hot Seat, a film about the harmful and ineffective flame retardants in our furniture and our work to reduce their use, can be viewed on demand on HBO until January 6, 2014

3) Watch for a piece on our work and flame retardants on the PBS NewsHour this week or next

4) You can watch some videos about my life and work here

Our new team and website

I invite you to visit our newly launched Green Science Policy website. Here you can learn how to reduce the toxics in your home, sign up for our monthly e-newsletters, or have questions answered.

Our team at the Green Science Policy Institute now includes five PhD and two Masters degree scientists.  You can learn more about them here. We are all working hard on the science and policy needed to protect global health from toxic chemicals. We would love to receive your feedback on our work and our website!

Here are other ways we are protecting families’ health from toxics in our homes:

Reducing harmful flame retardant chemicals in building insulation. California Governor Brown has signed Assembly Bill 127 which was based on our scientific research paper. AB127 is expected to lead to a reduction in flame retardants in building insulation where there is no added fire-safety benefit.

Educating through our “Six Classes” webinar series.

Instead of worrying about the use of many thousands of individual, untested chemicals, we are focusing on the most problematic groups of chemicals. Over 1,500 participants, including many retailers, manufacturers and government decision makers, have signed up. You can go to to download lectures and fact sheets and listen to this series of informative short lectures.


Sharing science in meetings with key decision makers in government and industry.

This year, my team and I had day-long in-person meetings with many dozens of major retailers, manufacturers, and government regulators. As they learned about the harm and lack of fire safety benefit of flame retardants, they gave their support to policies to reduce the use of these chemicals – further validating our model of using science to inform policy.

If you would like to make a gift towards this important work before the end of 2013, please donate online here.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2014!