January 2008 Newsletter

Dear friends,

My daughter Annalise, many of our good friends, and I enjoyed a delightful trek in the Annapurna range of Nepal over the December holidays. In June, July of 2008, I’m planning a trek in the trans-Himalayan region of Ladakh with my geophysicist friend Tanya Atwater and in December, a return to Burma.

Our work to reduce toxic chemicals in consumer products is going well with the Consumer Product Safety Commission moving forward with a flammability standard for the nation’s furniture that won’t lead to the toxic fire retardant chemicals in furniture that we have in California. We had an informative Fire Retardant Dilemma symposium last week. Interesting ppt lectures from previous sessions can be viewed at http://greensciencepolicy.org/conferences.shtml.

Please let me know if you might like to volunteer to help us with this work for human health and the environment and/or would like to be on our email list for occasional updates.

Happy 2008

Ladakh Geology Trek and Adventure June 24 to July 19, 2008
Temples, Trekking and Tribes in Burma Dec 17- Jan 1, 2009 (approximate dates)
“Down from the mountains, down from the ivory tower”
Leadership and Sustainability Workshops
The Name Game
Fighting for Safety: An Expose
The Fire Retardant Dilemma at UC Berkeley
25th annual Berkeley Himalayan Fair May17, 18, 2007 at Live Oak Park in Berkeley
Hosting A Fashion Show To Benefit A Nepalese Charity
Looking For Documentary Film Maker
Support access to Afghanistan’s highest mountain
Calendar of talks and classes

You are invited to join mountaineer world famous geophysicist Tanya Atwater and me on an adventurous 15-day trek in Ladakh amidst ancient Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, flat-topped mud-brick houses in oasis-like villages, and snow-capped mountains.
Hugh Swift and I crossed the Ladakh Himalaya 25 years ago with on our traverse of the Great Himalaya Range. After seeing the photos, Tanya has wanted to go to Ladakh with me ever since. Beginning at the Lamayuru monastery where Hugh and I concluded our ten- month-long trek in June of 1982, we will enjoy the masked dances of the Lamayuru Festival. Then we will walk up the remote Ripchar valley, cross the Zanskar River by way of a trolley box and trek into the Markha valley with giant rock pinnacles, narrow defiles, prayer-flagged passes and the ruins of forts and castles.

TEMPLES, TREKKING AND TRIBES IN BURMA DEC 17- JAN 1, 2009 (approximate dates)
Isolated from the rest of the world for the last decades, Burma is a traditional country rich in natural resources with a diversity of tribal peoples, ancient monasteries and pagodas, lively villages, and colorful markets. In Bagan, one of the richest archeological sites in Asia, we will explore by car, bike, foot, and boat among 2000 well-preserved temples and pagodas from the 10th to 12th centuries. In the hill station of Kalaw, we will meet friends who are helping bring water, roads, and health education tribal villagers in Shan state. We will trek for five days in the Kalaw region, sleeping in hospitable monasteries and long houses. After reaching lovely Inle Lake, we will relax and visit floating gardens and markets before returning to Yangon. An optional extension will take us to the tranquil beach at Ngapali for snorkeling or relaxing.

Down from the mountains, down from the ivory tower
The Catalyst, the news publication of the UC Berkeley College of Chemistry, has an alumni profile as titled above about my chemical policy work. Here’s a favorite excerpt:

Academic researchers have been called upon for centuries to be scientists and educators.
The Bayh-Dole legislation of 1980, allowed universities to patent and license discoveries based on federally funded research. …
Says Blum, now a visiting scholar at Berkeley’s Center on Institutions and Governance, “Public policy decisions are often based on complicated science. But in the name of objectivity, scientists have backed away from being involved in the policy arena. But if scientists can come down from the ivory tower to be business people, then I think it’s even more important for them to come down to be policy advisors. If scientists are too busy to provide their objective expertise, lobbyists are happy to fill the vacuum.”

I’m happy to email you a PDF of the article if you like or you can find a PDF of the entire issue on the URL below:

Lauren Heine, a respected green chemist; Victoria Keller, a noted outdoor educator, and I are developing leadership workshop to help organizations find a new vision of their future based on safer materials and sustainability. During these workshops, participants use hands-on activities, case studies, and their own experiences to define their values and vision for the future. The outdoor and group problem-solving activities lead to the formation of a united team. Participants develop a personal vision statement and an action plan to use their new skills to implement their vision.
If you know of an organization that might like more information about leadership and sustainability workshops. please ask them to get in touch with us. I have previously developed a leadership workshop for the chemists at National Laboratories; we would especially like to work with the chemical industry to help them find a new visiton of their future best on environmental and human health and safer chemicals.

I need a name to start an NGO to receive funding. I have received advice to make the name short like MoveOn and to make my NGO an institute, or center that could work both with industry or with environmentalists.
Our current website is GreenSciencePolicy.org

Some possibilities follow. All suggestions appreciated

Green Science Policy
Science Policy Center
Chemists for a Livable Future
Institute for Green Science and Public Policy
Alliance for Green Science Policy
Research Institute for Science and Public Policy
Center for Green Science Policy
Alliance of Scientists for a Healthy Environment


I was very interested to read the article above in the Washington Post documenting a connection between the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) and the fire retardant chemical industry. Since the NASFM are promoting new open flame standards for consumer electronics, furniture, and bed clothing that will lead to large amounts of potentially toxic fire retardant chemicals and materials in our homes, bodies, and environment, this connection is important information for decision makers.

At the end of the article I got more credit than I think I deserve for the CPSC’s sensible situation not to put FRs in the nation’s furniture foam: “Blum briefed the CPSC staff last fall, and some furniture industry lobbyists credit her with helping shape the agency’s latest version of the upholstered furniture standard.”

Credit should also go to Mary Brune and (MOMS) Making Our Milk Safe; Russell Lone, Sara Schendler, and Friends of the Earth; Joan Blades and Moms Rising; Andrew McGuire and the San Francisco Trauma Foundation, Peter Balaburn of the Burn Foundation, Bart Broome and Mark Leno, Brian Roach, Terry Collins, Raphael Shannon, Devra Davis, Heddy Riss, Davis Balz and so many of you in academia, government, and industry, whose scientific research and support is invaluable during this arduous and important expedition to a healthier and safer world for us all.

“Fighting for Safety”: Your Couch Is Caught in a Flammable Regulatory Battle Between the Chemical and Furniture Industries

By Annys Shin
Saturday, January 26, 2008; Page D0, washingtonpost.com > Business

Since its inception, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has grappled with how to reduce the number of deaths and injuries from accidental fires. It chose to tackle the problem by crafting a regulation to make upholstered furniture less flammable. A record 14 years later, a rule is heaving into sight, with a final vote possible later this year.
If the regulation is approved, it will end a protracted battle among a far-flung set of interests. The story behind the rule and why it took so long offers a glimpse at the constraints under which the CPSC operates. Hemmed in by jurisdictional dictates and sometimes hampered by a lack of clear scientific evidence, the commission became caught in the middle of warring industries. It became increasingly preoccupied with finding a compromise, and, at times, not able or inclined to impose its will on the voices shouting to be heard.
Those voices included fire marshals recruited to fight fire-safe cigarettes, a Berkeley biochemist who suspected her couch poisoned her cat, a group of Mississippi furniture makers, and an energetic ex-tobacco lobbyist who relished hardball tactics.
You can read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/25/AR2008012503170_2.html?sub=AR

The Fire Retardant Dilemma: Sessions 5 and 6
When: Fridays, May 2 and Sept 19, 8:00am to 1:00pm
Where: 150 University Hall, UC Berkeley (Oxford and Addison). The Fire Retardant Dilemma: How can we achieve fire and environmental safety as well as protect public health? This seminar will bring together speakers from industry, government, academia, and citizens groups to share information and research results and discuss innovative solutions based to the Fire Retardant Dilemma.

PowerPoint lectures and agendas from previous sessions are posted at http://greensciencepolicy.org/conferences.shtml.

25th ANNUAL HIMALAYAN FAIR 2006 May 15-16, 2008
The 25th annual Himalayan Fair will be held on May 20-21, 2006 in Live Oak Park in North Berkeley. This might be the last Himalayan Fair due to serious problems with the City of Berkeley. If you have contacts with the city or might like to help the fair to continue, contact Ginny Preston ginnypreston@att.net or Barbara Mercer at 510-869-3995.

This festive re-creation of a Himalayan bazaar features the food, music, crafts and dances of the Himalayas. All of the fair’s profits go directly to the Himalayan regions as donations to orphanages, medical clinics, schools, village water supplies and agricultural and child nutrition projects and other Himalayan charities. I describe starting the Himalayan Fair after returning from the ten month long Great Himalayan Traverse in Chapter 23 of my memoir “Breaking Trail.” You can visit the Himalayan Fair website http://www.himalayanfair.net

Yasmine Rana, a French designer based in Kathmandu, Nepal for the last 24 years, is looking for a host for a private trunk show or presentation of unique clothing designs blending high fashion and Nepalese tradition.. You can go to her website http://www.yasminedesigns.com/ for an idea of her work. A percentage on the sales will go directly to a Nepalese charity of your choice. (I’d suggest a girls’ orphanage to be built in Kathmandu, The project is being put together by Virtue’s Children – Nepal, Allan Aistrope ¬ director, aistrope140@yahoo.com, www.virtueschildrennepal.org)

Yasmine is available at the end of February and also at other times. She recently held a very successful four day long presentation at the RMA( Rubin Museum of art ) in NYC. If you might like to host a showing of her designs in your home, you can contact her at Yasmine@mail.com.np

The goal is find a film maker work with us to make an “Inconvenient Truth” type-oF-movie about the health impacts of toxic chemicals and our team’s effort to reduce them.

Afghanistan’S highest peak, Noshaq (7492m), is virtually inaccessible because the route to base camp is blocked by landmines. You can read about the Return to Noshaq campaign ( http://www.mockandoneil.com/noshaq.htm) , which is raising funds to remove the landmines from Noshaq and reopen this peak to the world. John Mock, who accompanied Hugh Swift on the last portion of the Great Himalayan Traverse through Pakistan is asking mountaineers and mountain lovers to support the Return to Noshaq campaign by making a contribution, forwarding this email to your mailing list, and adding a link ( http://www.mockandoneil.com/noshaq.htm) to your website.

Feb 1 UC Davis Toxicology Seminar Series
The Fire Retardant Dilemma 12:00 pm, Meyer Hall
Contact Dr. Michael Denison, “Michael S. Denison” <msdenison@ucdavis.edu>

Feb 19, 2008
Climbing Your Own Everests Workshop on Leadership and Sustainability for IBM
9:00am to 5:00 pm Denver CO at Redrocks
Co-leaders Lauren Heine, Victoria Keller

February 29, 2008
Stanford University Environmental Engineering and Science (EES) program Fridays seminar, The Fire Retardant Dilemma The 12:15 PM | Thomton, 110

March 3, 2008
Carnegie Mellon University 4:30 – 6:00pm,
The Fire Retardant Dilemma, 136A Baker Hall , Pittsburgh, PA
contact : Catherine Ribarchak, 412-268-8677, cr2@andrew.cmu.edu

March 8, 2008
American Medical Women’s Association Noon Symposia
1:00-1:40 Breaking Trail: Mountains, Molecules, and Motherhood
Anaheim, CA Contact: ElizaChin_md@yahoo.com

March 29, 2008
Trail Fest 2008 Dinner Keynote Speaker
Wildlife Fire Training and Conference Center, 3237 Peacekeeper Way, McClellan, CA (Sacramento) http://www.pcta.org/trailfest08. asp

April 5, 2008
UC-Berkeley Environmental Engineering Spring 2008 Seminar Series.
Fire Retardant Dilemma 12:00 noon 406 Davis Hall
Contact: Sharon Shearer <sshearer@berkeley.edu>

April 16, 2008
Friends of the California State University Sacramento Library
3 p.m. Breaking Trail: Molecules and Mountains
Gallery, first floor of University Library, California State University Sacramento
6000 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95819 Contact: Sally Hitchcock, University

April 28th, 2004
UC Berkeley Environmental Science, Policy and Management spring seminar series
The Fire Retardant Dilemma
Monday, April 28 from 4:00-5:30, in room 159 Mulford Hall
Contact Rachel K. Basso, phone (510) 643-4554, rbasso@nature.berkeley.edu>

May 4, 2008
Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life
Temple Menorah Sisterhood Book Event, 1110 Camino Real, Redondo Beach CA 90277 Contact: Ann Gotthoffer, anngott@aol.com

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

Arlene Blum BA1
Phone: 510 644-3164
Fax: 510 644-2164
Cell: 510 919-6363
E-Mail: arlene@arleneblum.com
Web site: www.arleneblum.com