Fall 2010 Newsletter

Dear friends,

I trust you had a good summer. Annalise and I had a great trek around Mt. Blanc in France, Italy, and Switzerland with beautiful wild flowers and great mountain views. In Chamonix, we enjoyed the hospitality of Maurice Herzog who led the 1950 French climb of Annapurna I. We brought Maurice my book Annapurna a Woman’s Place, which is happily back in print

In December, Annalise and I are leading an adventure trip to Egypt, where we have wanted to go for years. Get in touch if you might like to join us.

Annalise is currently in Nairobi working on a child health project. She writes of her adventures in her blog at annaliseblum.blogspot.com.

If you live in the Berkeley area, you are invited to my talks on October 1 or 15 as described below.

This Sunday the Green Science Policy Institute will be putting on a workshop on the Science and Policy of Flame Retardants at the international Dioxin 2010 meeting in San Antonio Texas with scientists from twelve countries participating. We will be releasing the first ever consensus statement on the properties of these halogenated flame retardants signed by many dozens of distinguished scientists.

Our chemical policy work has been slowed lately with a California bill to stop a requirement for flame retardants in baby products defeated and Congressional hearings delayed. At the same time, new research associates flame retardants with human neurological, reproductive, and endocrine problems and also shows that they appear not to provide a fire safety benefit in many consumer products. So reducing their use is a great opportunity to help protect the health of the world.

The Green Science Policy Institute is looking for an experienced associate director. http://greensciencepolicy.org/node/218 We welcome your suggestions.

Happy fall,

Egypt Adventure this December
Upcoming talks
Scientists Consensus Statement
Protect your health from toxics in furniture and baby products
Learn More about Toxic Flame Retardants
Annalise’s Adventure Blog and Gap Year Website
Green Science Policy and Arlene Blum Facebook Pages
Annapurna: A Woman’s Place is back in print
Small furnished sublet near UCB campus wanted for fall
Join our Expedition to a Healthier World

You are invited to join Annalise and me for a fun and educational Egyptian adventure during the December/January holidays. We will learn about Egypt’s 5,000-year-long story as we explore Cairo and cruise the Nile. Then we will hike with the Bedouins and their camels in the Sinai and spend a few days relaxing, snorkeling, and possibly diving in the dazzling Red Sea. The dates are December 21 to January 8. Get in touch if you might like to join us for this adventure in world’s oldest tourist destination and we will send you more information.

Sunday, September 12, 2010 – 12:00 – 17:00
Green Science Policy Institute Flame Retardant Dilemma Symposium
Dioxin 2010 meeting, San Antonio, Texas
If you are attending the Dioxin 2010 meeting please join the Green Science Policy Institute for the Flame Retardant Dilemma Symposium in 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

Friday Oct 1, 12:30-2:00,
Room 112 Wurster Hall, UC Berkeley campus
Toxicity of flame retardants in buildings: what can be done about it?
Architecture 242 – Colloquium: Design for Sustainability Fall ‘10
Prof. Gail Brager
Everyone is welcome to attend the lectures without enrolling.

Friday, October 15, noon lunch and talk
Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Avenue,
Climbing Your Own Everest: Leadership, Vision, and Problem Solving”
Cost is $16.50, payable to the City Commons Club of Berkeley

Tuesday, October 19th. 11:30 am
Flame Retardants and Health: A Global Concern
Santa Barbara, CA, Bren Hall, UCSB
Patricia Holden <holden@bren.ucsb.edu> for more information

Thursday, November 18, 2010, 8:30 – 10:00 am
Dr. Arlene Blum Master Speaker Lecture at Greenbuild 2010
Toxicity of flame retardants in buildings: what can be done about it?
McCormick Place West, Chicago, Illinois

If you are a scientist or health professional, please write us for a copy of the Scientists Consensus Statement documenting the large potential for harm and small benefit from the use of organohalogen flame retardants in consumer products.

After decades of research, there is a body of scientific literature documenting the toxicity and persistence of organohalogens flame retardants as well as new information showing their lack of fire safety benefit in many applications. The Green Science Policy Institute has put together this consensus statement to support future policy actions to reduce their use in consumer products and a move to safer alternatives. This should help prevent the reproductive, neurological, thyroid, and endocrine disorders associated with exposure to these chemicals.

We also welcome your suggestions of names and e-mails of other scientists we could ask for their sign-ons.

The California flammability standard Technical Bulletin 117 (TB117) is a de facto requirement for toxic or untested flame retardants in foam in furniture and baby products. There is no requirement for labeling, testing for adverse health effects, or data to show a proven fire safety benefit from this standard. If you live outside California, you should be able to find products without the TB117 label.

Avoid upholstered furniture, nursing pillow, highchairs, strollers, baby carriers etc. with polyurethane foam and a label stating they meet TB117. These products are likely to contain the same tris that was removed from children’s sleepwear or other untested or toxic flame retardants. There is no data to show these chemicals save lives.

Instead, consider buying furniture and baby products made of polyester, down, wool, or cotton, which are unlikely to contain added flame retardant chemicals. Please pass on this message about reducing toxics by avoiding TB117 labeled products containing foam.

Please check out the new improved website for the Green Science Policy Institute at www.greensciencepolicy.org,

Please let us know if you would like to receive about two e-mail updates a month from the Green Science Policy Institute.

Check out an excellent five part series on flame retardants and health on NPR. Podcast and full text at http://www.environmentreport.org/. I am interviewed in section five.

You can hear leading health scientists and me speaking about Flame Retardants: Emerging Science and Policy Considerations.
*Ami Zota, Sc.D., UCSF on exposure to flame retardants
* Kim Harley, Ph.D., UC Berkeley on recent time to pregnancy study and other human health findings,
* Julie Herbstman, Ph.D., Sc.M., Columbia University on neurodevelopmental outcomes
* Arlene Blum, Ph.D., UC Berkeley: on background, alternatives to flame retardants, policy considerations

The House Energy & Commerce Committee Hearing on Flame Retardant Chemicals has been postponed, possibly due to many committee hearings on the Deepwater Horizon rig oil spill

Annalise is now happily in Nairobi with interesting work, young colleagues with similar interests, and a comfortable, spacious, and safe apartment. Such good news. She writes of her adventures in her blog at annaliseblum.blogspot.com

Great photos of her summer are at
http://picasaweb.google.com/annaliseblum/EuropeSummer2010?authkey=Gv1sRgCMX28Iv_h4GoVQ&feat=email #

After graduating from Stanford in June, Annalise travelled in England with her father, hiked in the Alps with me and travelled in Germany and Croatia with friends. She was awarded a MAP Sustainable Energy Fellowship, ( http://www.maproyalty.com/fellowships.html), to help provide refugees and villages near the Burma-Thai border with sustainable water, sanitation and energy where she will go in January..

After high school, Annalise took a wonderful gap year and has made a website to help other students who want to take time off at and volunteer outside the U.S. http://www.freewebs.com/gapyearsite
The site has profiles of successful gap years and resources for volunteering internationally. If you can recommend good programs, or know someone who has taken a gap year and would like to write for the site, you can email Annalise at annaliseblum@gmail.com

We are slowly getting started on Facebook, but please do go to our site and become a fan. We will be posting more information there soon.


Sierra Club Books has just reprinted Annapurna A Woman’s Place, which has been out of print for nearly a year. You can order an autographed copy at
When we decided to attempt Annapurna, we thought it would be a relatively safe easy peak. History has shown it to be the most dangerous and possibly the most difficult of the world’s 8000 meter high mountains. This classic adventure story was included in Fortune magazine’s list of “The 75 Smartest Business Books We Know” and chosen by National Geographic Adventure Magazine as one of the 100 top adventure books of all time.

The famous “A Woman’s Place is on Top…Annapurna” t-shirt, Annapurna videos, and Himalayan language courses are also available at www.arleneblum.com
And you can purchase an autographed copy of the hardback or paperback of “Breaking Trail”. http://arleneblum.com/breaking_trail_pb.html

My friend, Caroline Said’s nephew who is a senior at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., is in the Bay Area for 3 months (Sept-Nov) to write a thesis about Berkeley students protesting the budget cuts. He’s looking for a furnished sublet in Berkeley or North Oakland starting ASAP, and can pay about $700 a month. He’s an agreeable, responsible studious young man, aged 21. He has a bike but not a car, so proximity to public transit would be a plus. He’s at 847-431-4309; sja07@hampshire.edu.

More challenging than climbing Annapurna is the Green Science Policy Institute’s expedition to a healthier world. We invite you to volunteer to help, send messages to decision makers, or contribute the Green Science Policy Institute to contribute to our work for a healthier and more sustainable future for our children, our pets, and the environment.

Please make a tax-deductible donation at www.greensciencepolicy.org/donate
or by check (please make check payable to SEE/GSP) and mail to:
Green Science Policy Institute, P.O. Box 5455, Berkeley, CA 94705
Please include your Name, Address, City, State, Zip, Phone
GSP is a Project of Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (SEE), a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Contributions of $50 or greater will receive an acknowledgement letter from SEE that can be used for tax purposes.

We believe that preventing health problems by reducing toxic chemicals is much more effective than trying to cure the conditions they are associated with such as cancer, endocrine and thyroid disruption, neurological and reproductive problems such as hyperactivity and infertility. We are working with distinguished scientists, doctors, industry representatives, and policy makers around the world to reduce toxics. Our collective efforts have stopped the unnecessary use of billions of pounds of flame retardants in consumer products. With your help we can continue and expand our work.

Please contact us if you would like your name to be taken off this e-mail list or would like more information about the Green Science Policy Institute or Arlene Blum’s leadership and sustainability lectures or workshops

Arlene Blum PhD
Visiting Scholar, Chemistry
University of California, Berkeley
Executive Director, Green Science Policy Institute
Telephone: 510 644-3164           Mobile: 510 919-6363
Web: www.greensciencepolicy.org, www.arleneblum.com