September 2007 Newsletter

Dear friends,

You can read Part I of the KILLER COUCH CHEMICALS BLOG today August 16 in the Huffington Post about my cat Midnight’s hyperthyroid disease and the link to flame retardants chemicals.

There is also an excellent Oakland Tribune article today including a photo of Midnight

The blog above will document the adventures of advocates fighting the chemical industry in a high-stakes battle in Sacramento to prohibit toxic fire retardant chemicals in furniture found in millions of American homes. Russell Long of Friends of the Earth, Mary Brune of Making Our Milk Safe (MOMS), biophysical chemist Arlene Blum, and Joan Blades of, (which is launching a letter to the Governor campaign to support AB 706) will share their adventures as they work together to phase out toxic brominated and chlorinated chemical fire retardants from the nation’s furniture.

September 20, 2007 at 150 University Hall, UC Berkeley
9:00 am to 1:00 pm Open to the Public

There will be FURNITURE TESTING in the east bay as below. Please forward this message to friends or colleagues in the SF bay area who might want to have their furniture tested for potentially toxic fire retardants, especially those with pets.

Saturday, August 18, 9 -11 am.
1125 High Street, Alameda, CA
RSVP to “Mary Brune” <> 510-769-5223
Making Our Milk Safe (MOMS)

Saturday and Sunday August 18, 19 4-6pm.
1492 Olympus Avenue, Berkeley, California 94708
RSVP to 510 644-3164

Monday, August 20 from 6-9 pm
Wednesday, August 20 from 6-9 pm
Saturday, 25th from 10am-12pm
2635 Benvenue Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
RSVP to, 510.384.4954

For each furniture cushion you bring, we would like to know:
1. brand and model,
2. where and when it was purchased

Please email or phone your host with your RSVP and approximate time of arrival.

If you have upholstered furniture in your home, you and your loved ones could be exposed to potentially toxic fire retardant chemicals embedded in the foam in that furniture. Nearly every Californian tested has been found to have these chemicals – brominated and chlorinated fire retardants (BFRs and CFRs) – in their bodies.

My colleagues from Blue Water Network and Mom, Making Our Milk Safe and I are conducting a study using a borrowed XFR testing gun to determine how much furniture in California contains these chemicals. If you would like to be part of our study and learn about whether your furniture contains BFRs and CFRs, please bring couch and/or chair cushions or whatever furniture you can fit into our car to one of our pillow parties as below.

Please email or phone your host with your RSVP and approximate time of arrival.

We have the XFR gun for the next two weeks and will be able to visit east bay homes with the XFR gun. We are especially interested in testing homes with older cats or dogs who have hyperthyroid disease or cancer or have healthy dogs or cats as controls.
Contact, 510.384.4954 if you would like to have her come and test the furniture in your home.

Sara, Mary and I are all supporting AB706, Assemblyman Mark Leno’s precedent setting toxics bill to phase out two class of potent6ailly toxic chemical fire retardants from use in furniture and bedding and to require the manufacturers to show safety of the replacements. The BFRs and CFRs migrate out of furniture, can accumulate in people and the environment, and are known to cause endocrine disruption, neurological and reproductive problems in animals.


Arlene Blum
Phone:   510 644-3164
Cell:     510 919-6363
E-Mail:   <>
Web site:

You can view photos and text from Arlene’s new book Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life at

Phone: 510-644-3164                     Fax  510 644-2164
E-mail:           Web: