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.
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).
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 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
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.
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 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.
- 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.
- 2011: contributed to the state of California listing Chlorinated Tris as a carcinogen under Proposition 65.
- 2010: based on our study finding that many baby products in the U.S. contain toxic flame retardants, California exempted four products (strollers, infant carriers, bassinets, and nursing pillows) from flammability requirements that would have required use of chemical flame retardants.
- 2010: based, in part, on our education campaign, the U.S. Green Building Council is giving a LEED Pilot Credit for not using halogenated flame retardants and phthalates inside buildings.
- 2010: initiated the San Antonio Statement on Brominated and Chlorinated Flame Retardants, signed by more than 210 scientists from 30 countries, which is contributing to reducing toxics worldwide.
- 2009: suspended a proposed flammability requirement in California for pillows, comforters, and mattress toppers which would have done nothing to promote fire safety, but would have functionally required the use of toxic chemicals in these products.
- 2008 – present: provided the science to stop numerous international standards that would have led to the addition of hundreds of millions of pounds of flame retardants in consumer electronics cases each year.