November 2010 Newsletter
We so have some good news to share: To find out if there are toxic flame retardants in your couch, please consider joining our Couch Study as described below. This Saturday I’m speaking at TEDx for the Plastic Pollution Coalition. You can access the live webcast at http://www.tedxgreatpacificgarbagepatch.com/
Some recent successes of GSP include the San Antonio Statement on Brominated and Chlorinated Flame Retardants, a consensus statement we initiated, which has been signed by 170 scientists and physicians from 26 countries so far and was published on-line last week in Environmental Health Perspectives. Also, based in part on our work, the US Green Building Council will give a LEED credit for not using halogenated flame retardants and phthalates inside buildings – a first.
In a few days, Annalise returns from a fun and productive time working in the slums of Nairobi on a child health project. She writes about her adventures and the good friends she made at annaliseblum.blogspot.com with photos at http://picasaweb.google.com/annaliseblum/Nairobi2010#
Annalise and I are looking forward to our December trip to Jordan and Egypt, cruising the Nile and trekking with Bedouins and camels in the Sinai.
In late August, I plan to repeat last summer’s fun trek around Mt. Blanc in France, Italy, and Switzerland with beautiful wild flowers and great mountain views. Get in touch if you might like to join us. The trek will be following the Green Science Policy Institute’s Science and Policy of Flame Retardants session at the International Dixon 2011 meeting in Brussels.
Please let us know if you would like to join our e-list receive about two e-mail updates on science, policy and reducing toxics each month from the Green Science Policy Institute and check out our new improved website at www.greensciencepolicy.org,
1. Join our study to learn if there are halogenated flame retardants your couch
2. San Antonio Scientists Consensus Statement on flame retardants
3. New LEED credit for not using halogenated flame retardants in buildings
4. Watch the Green Science Policy Institute on TEDx and host a Pacific Garbage Patch Party
5. Save the Date: February 11 for the Flame Retardant Dilemma
6. Alps Adventure August 26 to September 6, 2011
7. Protect your health from toxics in baby products and furniture
8. Learn more about reducing toxics
10. Annalise’s Adventure Blog and Gap Year website
11. Green Science Policy Facebook Page
12. Annapurna: A Woman’s Place is back in print
13. Join our Expedition to a Healthier World
1. JOIN OUR STUDY TO LEARN WHAT’S IN YOUR COUCH
Please consider joining our study to learn if there are flame retardants in your couch. To qualify, your couch must meet the following four criteria:
1. You purchased the couch new. (No hand-me downs, used, re-upholstered couches, sofa-beds, futons, or day beds can be included in the study.)
2. You know the state and year of purchase.
3. The couch is for home use, rather than for an office or public place.
4. The couch label states it contains polyurethane foam. (The couch may also contain polyester or other materials.) OR
There were no labels when you purchased it. (If labels were torn off, your couch is not eligible for this study).
If your couch meets the four criteria above, please contact Michelle Gabriel <firstname.lastname@example.org> for the directions. Your donation of a small foam sample from your couch will contribute to our efforts to reduce the toxics in our homes and bodies.
2. SCIENTISTS CONSENSUS STATEMENT
The San Antonio Statement on Brominated and Chlorinated Flame Retardants, a consensus statement initiated by the Green Science Policy Institute, has been signed by over 170 scientists and physicians from over 20 countries to date. This statement documents the harm and lack of fire safety benefit of these widespread pollutants. The statement was published online last week by Environmental Health Perspectives along with an editorial in support of the statement.
http://greensciencepolicy.org/node/269 and http://www.ehponline.org/article/info:doi/10.1289/ehp.1003088.
We welcome your suggestions of names and e-mails of sother cientists and physicians who might like to sign-on or you can sign on at http://greensciencepolicy.org/node/278
3. NEW LEED CREDIT TARGETS FLAME RETARDANTS and PHTHALATES
The US Green Building Council (USGBC) expanded the LEED Pilot Credit Library with a new LEED materials credit for “Chemical Avoidance In Building Materials” for avoiding the interior use of phthalates and halogenated flame retardants. According to the Executive Director of the Healthy Building Network, Bill Walsh, the Green Science Policy Institute’s efforts in this area were crucial to this progress.
Also if you are attending, Green Build in Chicago, I’ll be a Master speaker. Please come to my session :
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
4. WATCH ARLENE on TEDx AND HOST A PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH PARTY
I have been invited to give a talk on flame retardants and plastic pollution at TEDx “GreatPacificGarbagePatch” hosted by the Plastic Pollution Coalition at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica on Saturday, November 6.
You can watch at http://www.tedxgreatpacificgarbagepatch.com/
This historic event centering around the devastation of plastic pollution will feature prominent thought leaders, innovators, and artists sharing what they know, exploring solutions, and presenting plans for action. Other speakers include David de Rothschild and Ed Begley Jr.
Our session on Plastic Pollution and Public Health will begin around 10:30 am
• Arlene Blum: Plastic Pollution at Our Homes
• Ken Cook: Plastic Pollution in Our Bodies
• Jeanne Rizzo: The Breast Cancer Connection
• Stacy Malkan: Plastics Industry Makeover
The event will be broadcast online starting at 8:30 am Pacific Time and continuing until 6:00 pm at http://www.tedxgreatpacificgarbagepatch.com/
5. ALPS ADVENTURE AUGUST 26 to SEPTEMBER 6
You are invited to join Annalise and me for a “comfort” version of the classic hike around Mt. Blanc (15 771’- the roof of western Europe), in France, Italy, and Switzerland. The dates are August 26 to September 6, 2011. Thanks to minibus support we only carry day packs and spend the night in small hotels… Each day we hike up to the ridges and descend into valleys below, (averaging 3000 feet up and down each day) with time to enjoy views of glaciers, green mountain meadows and peaks. Get in touch if you might like to join us for this comfortable adventure in three countries and we will send you more information after January 1.
6. THE FLAME RETARDANT DILEMMA AT UC BERKELEY FEBRUARY 11, 2011
Please save the date
Friday Feb 11, 2011 Fire Retardant Dilemma: Do flame retardants same lives?
8:30am ¬ 4:00 pm
150 University Hall, UC Berkeley
RSVP with contact information: FRDilemma@gmail.com
Past presentations at: http://greensciencepolicy.org/events
7. PROTECT YOUR HEALTH FROM TOXICS in BABY PRODUCTS AND FURNITURE
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.
8. LEARN MORE ABOUT REDUCING TOXICS
Please let us know if you would like to join our e-list receive about two e-mail updates science, policy and reducing toxics each month from the Green Science Policy Institute.
Please check out the new improved website for the Green Science Policy Institute at www.greensciencepolicy.org,
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
9. REBUILDING AFGANISTAN SUMMIT AT UC BERKELEY NOVEMBER 7
The rebuilding Afghanistan summit will be held at the UC Berkeley Pauley Ballroom in the Martin Luther King Student Union building (2200 University Ave) this Sunday November 7 from 11AM-6PM. The co-chair is Nadia Tarzi, with whom I put on our Afgan cultureal event following September 11.
Grass roots organizations and businesses, involved in increasing educational opportunities, agricultural expansion, healthcare advancement, infrastructure improvement, de-mining and environmental enhancement, business investment and archeological preservation, will showcase their projects in Afghanistan. www.afghansummit.org
10. ANNALISE’S ADVENTURES and GAP YEAR SITE
Annalise is coming home from Nairobi where she had interesting work, young colleagues with similar interests, and a comfortable, spacious, and safe apartment. See annaliseblum.blogspot.com Great photos of her summer are at
After graduating form Stanford in June, Annalise 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.
11. NEW TO FACEBOOK
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.
12. ANNAPURNA: A WOMAN’S PLACE IS NOW BACK IN PRINT
Sierra Club Books has reprinted Annapurna A Woman’s Place, which had been out of print for 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
13. JOIN OUR EXPEDITION TO A HEALTHIER WORLD
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.
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