Guest Blogger

Arlene Blum

Arlene Blum

Arlene Blum PhD, biophysical chemist, author, and mountaineer is a Visiting Scholar in Chemistry UC Berkeley and also executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute. The Institute brings government, industry, scientists and citizens groups together worldwide to support chemical policies to protect human health and the global environment. Her current “mountain,” which she considers her life’s most challenging and important, is to inform decision makers to reduce the use of harmful chemicals in consumer products.

Blum’s research and policy work has contributed to stopping the use toxic flame retardants in children's sleepwear and other products globally She currently teaches a class on chemistry and policy at U. C. Berkeley and has taught at Stanford University, and Wellesley College. She also serves on the boards of Environmental Building News, ISET, an organization dedicated to solving climate, water and disaster problems in South Asia; the Berkeley Himalayan Fair which she founded, the Plastic pollution Coalition and Healthy Child/Healthy World.

Blum led the first American and all-women’s ascent of Annapurna I, considered one of the world’s most dangerous and difficult mountains, co-led the first women’s team to climb Denali, completed the Great Himalayan Traverse across the mountain regions of Bhutan, Nepal, and India, and hiked the length of the European Alps with her baby daughter on her back. She is the author of Annapurna: A Woman’s Place and Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life.

Blum’s awards include selection by the UK Guardian as one of the world’s 100 most inspiring women in 2011 and National Women’s History Project selection as one of 100 “Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet,” selection as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, and election to the Hall of Mountaineering Excellence.

More information is at and


Blog Posts by Arlene Blum

  • What Can Be Done to Protect Against the Impact of Fire Retardants?

    What Can Be Done to Protect Against the Impact of Fire Retardants?

    There are two big questions in the fight against flame retardants: How do I protect my own family and how do I make a difference for the future of our planet?

    Read full story
  • Do Flame Retardants Prevent Fires?

    Do Flame Retardants Prevent Fires?

    According to the peer reviewed paper, Flame Retardants in Furniture Foam: Benefits and Risks, the California standard TB117 has not been shown to improve fire safety and is thus presenting an unnecessary health hazard.

    Read full story
  • How Are We Exposed to Flame Retardants?

    How Are We Exposed to Flame Retardants?

    For many chemicals, diet is the primary concern. Not so for most flame retardant chemicals. But how are we exposed?

    Read full story
  • Who is Most Vulnerable to the Impact of Flame Retardants?

    Who is Most Vulnerable to the Impact of Flame Retardants?

    Flame retardants, including Chlorinate Tris, Firemaster 550, and PentaBDE, are found in the foam inside upholstered furniture in order to meet California regulations — the must be able to withstand exposure to a small flame, like a candle or cigarette lighter, for 12 seconds without igniting. But these chemicals don’t stay inside the foam. They […]

    Read full story
  • What’s the Problem with Flame Retardants?

    What’s the Problem with Flame Retardants?

    Flame retardants, applied to the foam inside 80% of upholstered furniture in the United States, may not save lives. In fact, during a fire they will burn in seconds and give off the toxic gases that are the major cause of fire deaths.   They are used due to a California standard called Technical Bulletin 117, […]

    Read full story