Watch a video on Executive Director Arlene Blum and the history of the Green Science Policy Institute.


The Green Science Policy Institute was founded in 2008 in Berkeley, California by Executive Director Arlene Blum after she learned that the same chlorinated tris that her research had helped remove from children’s pajamas in the 1970s was back in furniture and baby products. Since its founding, Green Science Policy Institute has stopped ten unneeded flammability standards and prevented hundreds of millions of pounds of toxic flame retardants from being added to consumer products.

Our Mission:

Independent research and scientific integrity guide Green Science Policy’s mission to promote responsible use of chemicals, ensuring a healthy planet for current and future generations.

We provide unbiased scientific data to government, industry and non-governmental organizations to facilitate informed decision-making about the use of chemicals in consumer products. We encourage scientists to use their research in the public interest. We are currently focusing on reducing the use of unnecessary flame retardants due to their adverse impacts on human and environmental health.

Green Science Policy addresses toxicity issues by:

  • Serving as a watchdog for emerging regulations and standards that could adversely impact human health and the environment.
  • Motivating and participating in academic research for innovative solutions to key health and environmental challenges.
  • Disseminating objective scientific research to industry, regulatory bodies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

View our Publications

Our People:

Arlene Blum, Ph.D.
Founder and Executive Director
Dr. Blum is a biophysical chemist, visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Department of Chemistry, and author of Annapurna: A Woman’s Place and Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life. Blum’s research contributed to the regulation of two cancer-causing flame retardants used in children’s sleepwear in the 1970s, and prevented unnecessary flammability standards that would have led to the use of hundreds of millions of pounds of persistent toxic chemicals each year. Blum’s awards include selection by the UK Guardian as one of the world’s 100 most inspiring women 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 recent election to the Hall of Mountaineering Excellence. Please see www.arleneblum.com for more information about adventures and a calendar of events, or click here for press coverage of Dr. Blum’s life and work.

Donald Lucas, Ph.D. – Combustion Science
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Dr. Donald Lucas is a scientist in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, and an affiliate in the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley. His principal areas of research are combustion generated air pollutants, experimental chemical kinetics, novel diagnostic techniques for hazardous species, and combustion chemistry. He received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from UC Berkeley.

Avery Lindeman
Deputy Director
Avery graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in Chemistry in 2011, and completed a Master’s in Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley in 2013. Avery currently leads policy work on flammability standards for furniture and insulation at the Institute. Before joining the GSP team, Avery conducted research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Caroline Clarke, MSc
Development Director
Caroline Clarke was previously a prospect research consultant and worked on multiple research projects for a variety of education and arts organizations in the UK and India. She has also worked as a senior researcher and manager in the development offices of the London School of Economics and the London Business School. She has a BSc (Econ) and an MSc (Econ) in Politics of the World Economy from the London School of Economics.

Simona Yi-Balan, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist
Simona graduated in 2007 with a BSc in Geosciences and Astrophysics from Jacobs University Bremen, and in 2013 with a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management from UC Berkeley. Before joining the GSP team, Simona worked in a team of consultants with Hewlett-Packard and the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry to prioritize chemicals of high human and environmental concern during the informal recycling of electronics. She has experience managing research projects, writing and teaching in both academic and non-academic settings.

Veronica Chin
Program Associate
Veronica graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Math and Chinese Language in 2012. Before joining GSP, Veronica was the Program Development Manager for an education non-profit in Lima, Peru.

Our Accomplishments:

  • 2014: We co-authored The Madrid Statement, a scientific consensus statement on the persistence and toxicity of fluorinated chemicals. It has been signed by more than 200 scientists from 37 countries. This statement launches our initiative to reduce the use of these chemicals in food packaging, cosmetics, and outdoor gear.
  • 2014: Our Responsible Furniture Disposal Project seeks to develop environmentally sound strategies for the disposal of tens of millions of toxic sofas currently in American homes to prevent toxic furniture from remaining in our homes and the environment for decades to come.
  • 2014: Our series of webinars about classes of harmful chemicals commonly found in consumer products has been viewed more than 4,000 times. This series, which can be seen at www.SixClasses.org, has contributed to large retailers and manufacturers reducing the use of these chemicals.
  • 2013: Our research paper provided the scientific basis for the California Assembly Bill 127, a first step toward changing ineffective requirements that lead to the high-volume use of toxic flame retardants in building insulation when they do not provide a safety benefit.
  • 2013: We organized the first Toxics Reduction Retreat. This annual event brings together high-level decision makers from industry, government, academia, and non-profits to propose practical solutions for reducing the use of harmful chemicals in consumer products and finding safer alternatives.
  • 2013: Our work contributed to the California Governor’s decision to revise TB117, an outdated California requirement that led to pounds levels of flame retardants in our homes. Now, TB117-2013 is in effect, and consumers can buy furniture and baby products that have greater fire safety without toxic flame retardants.
  • 2012: Our paper “Flame retardants in building insulation: a case for re-evaluating building codes” was published in the prestigious British journal Building Research and Information. The paper is the basis for legislation and proposals to change building codes to reduce the use of flame retardants in building insulation.
  • 2012: Our study with Heather Stapleton identifying the toxic flame retardants in most of the couches in America was published in Environmental Science & Technology and received significant media attention.
  • 2011: Our paper finding that 80% of baby products tested contained halogenated flame retardant chemicals was the top paper of 2011 in Environmental Science & Technology  and is still one of the top ten most read papers in that journal.


Andrew McGuire – Policy
Trauma Foundation
Since 1973, Andrew McGuire has been an advocate for health policy issues that have faced state and national policymakers. As the first director of Action Against Burns he successfully lobbied for a flame resistant sleepwear standard for Massachusetts and, as a burn survivor established one of the first in the nation self-help groups for burn survivors. In 1978 he began a national campaign for fire-safe cigarettes which has led to mandatory fire safety standards for cigarettes in all 50 states, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Russia, the European Union and other countries. Andrew has received a MacArthur (“Genius”) Fellowship, Kellogg National Leadership Fellowship, and was presented an Emmy Award in 1982 for “Here’s Looking At You, Kid”. He holds the position of Associate in the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health and Lecturer in the Sociology Department of Sonoma State University.

Vytenis Babrauskas, Ph.D. – Fire Science
Fire Science & Technology Inc.
Dr. Vytenis (Vyto) Babrauskas received his M.S. in Structural Engineering (1972) and a Ph.D. in Fire Protection Engineering (1976), both from UC Berkeley. In 1993 he formed Fire Science and Technology Inc., a firm specializing in fire safety R&D. Previously, Dr. Babrauskas conducted research in fire protection engineering at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, formerly known as National Bureau of Standards, for over 16 years, where he managed research groups in the areas of flammability test development, upholstered furniture flammability, and fire toxicity. Dr. Babrauskas is a ranking international authority on the measurement of heat released from fires and has invented and developed tests and instruments in the field of fire science that have become standard world-wide.

David Rich, Ph.D. – Fire Science
Reax Engineering
David Rich received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (major area: Combustion) from UC Berkeley, with a NASA sponsored dissertation related to ignition of solid fuels. Dr. Rich is currently an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University (California) where he teaches Fluid Mechanics, Combustion, and Fire Dynamics. Among other areas he is an expert in the development of experimental platforms for the study of fire phenomena such as ignition and flame spread.

Green Science Policy Advisory Board:

  • Lauren Heine, Ph.D., Senior Science Advisor, Clean Production Action, Lauren Heine Group LLC
  • Don Kennedy, Ph.D., President Emeritus of Stanford University, former editor-in-chief of Science magazine and former FDA Commissioner
  • Richard Luthy, Ph.D., Silas H. Palmer Professor and Department Chair, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University
  • Nina McClelland, Ph.D., former Chairman of the Board, American Chemical Society; President of Nina I. McClelland, LLC
  • William Nazaroff, Ph.D., Daniel Tellep Distinguished Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley

Press: About Us

Chicago Tribune: Furniture firms shun flame retardants but some toxi…

New safety regulations allow upholstered furniture to be made without flame retardants, but consumers may find it difficult to tell whether a retail…

23 Jan 2015

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SFGate: Chemicals' phaseout a 'success story' for S.F. Bay wildlife

Ten years after government regulations forced an industry phaseout of once common but toxic flame retardants, a new study of San Francisco Bay has shown a st…

28 Dec 2014

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LA Times: How I Made It: Arlene Blum

The Gig: Arlene Blum is a California scientist, educator, author and an international mountain climber. Her work has helped eliminate dangerous fire reta…

07 Dec 2014

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Trim Tab: Interview with Arlene Blum

Summiting the world’s highest mountain peaks takes incredible strength, bravery and perseverance. Arlene Blum has climbed many of the world’s highest and…

30 Nov 2014

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Madrid Statement in the Media

  With its unveiling during Dioxin Symposium 2014 in Spain, Madrid, the Madrid Statement has gained some media attention. From the Environmental Factor: [quote style="1" author="Eddy Ball"…

13 Oct 2014

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More Magazine: The 4th annual Fierce List – Sofa, so good

More Magazine published their 4th annual "Fierce List", profiling "Fifty women so forceful and resourceful, untiring and inspiring, they'll jolt your brain, bolster your faith, and feed your soul." Th…

01 May 2014

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KZYX Women's Voices: Janie Rezner interviews Arlene Blum

Listen via radio4all.net Janie Rezner's guest on Women's Voices, KZYX, is American mountaineer, writer, and environmental health scien…

20 Jan 2014

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San Jose Mercury News: Bay Area sent two women on first climb to the…

From the San Jose Mercury News It did not exactly rival George Mallory's epic rejoinder when the British mountain climber was asked why he wanted to sca…

14 Jan 2014

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UC Berkeley News Center: Post-Annapurna, blazing trails out of the t…

The determination that made Arlene Blum a history-making mountaineer is apparent, nearly four decades on, as she walks her favorite trail in Tilden Park…

27 Jun 2013

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SF Chronicle: Scientist's target: carcinogenic products

In a UC Berkeley classroom, Arlene Blum dived into a version of a chemistry lecture she has given for most of the past decade. There would be no h…

27 Apr 2013

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New York Times Magazine: How dangerous is your couch?

From New York Times Magazine In September 1976, a mail runner from Katmandu arrived at Base Camp on Mount Everest with a package for Dr. Arlene Blum, a m…

09 Sep 2012

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Rock and Ice: Beautiful minds – Blum, Reichardt, Kendall, Molenaar i…

From Rock and Ice Magazine When Arlene Blum was accepted to PhD programs at Harvard, MIT, Berkeley and Caltech, she dreamed of joining the Harvard Mountai…

08 Apr 2012

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