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 is to facilitate responsible use of chemicals to protect human and ecological health. We educate and build partnerships among scientists, regulators, businesses, and public interest groups to develop innovative solutions for reducing harmful chemicals in products.
To achieve this, we:
- Provide unbiased scientific data for informed decision-making.
- Motivate and participate in scientific research that serves the public interest.
- Act as a watchdog for regulations that could lead to increased use of toxics.
- Promote policy and purchasing decisions to reduce the use of classes of harmful chemicals.
Arlene Blum, Ph.D.
Founder and Executive Director
Arlene Blum Ph.D., chemist, author, and mountaineer is a Research Associate in Chemistry at UC Berkeley and Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute. Blum led the first American ascent of Annapurna I; 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. Her current “mountain” is to work with decision makers in business and government to reduce the use of classes of chemicals of concern for healthier products, people and planet.
Arlene Blum received her Ph.D. in Biophysical Chemistry from UC Berkeley and has taught at UC Berkeley, Stanford University, and Wellesley College.
More info: www.arleneblum.com and www.greensciencepolicy.org/primer
Caroline Clarke, M.Sc.
Development and Operations 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.
Tom Bruton, Ph.D.
Science and Policy Fellow
Tom Bruton recently graduated with a Ph.D. from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley, where his research focused on detoxifying soil and groundwater contaminants using chemical oxidation. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Iowa State University, and Arizona State University, respectively.
Swati Rayasam, M.Sc.
Science and Policy Associate
Swati Rayasam recently completed her M.Sc. in Global Health and the Environment at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. A microbiologist with several years of experience, she focused her research on bacterial drinking water quality, antimicrobial resistance, and women’s health in peri-urban India. She received her BS in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013.
Anna Soehl, M.Sc.
Science and Policy Consultant
Anna Soehl holds an MSc in environmental science and policy from Central European University/Manchester University. She previously worked as an air toxics project manager at the Great Lakes Commission, managing federally funded scientific research grant program and as a natural resources planner at the Maryland Department of the Environment’s Science Services Administration, working for the Total Maximum Daily Loads, Fish Consumption Advisory, and Community Right-to-Know programs.
Raphael graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2015, with a BA in Politics and a minor in History. Before joining GSP, Raphael spent time working in marketing and backpacking throughout Central and Southern Europe.
- 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.
Board of Directors:
Gretta Goldenman – Chair
Gretta Goldenman is an attorney based in Brussels. She co-founded European Centre on Sustainable Policies for Human and Environmental Rights (ECOSPHERE) and Pesticide Action Network International(1982). Goldenman is also founding director of Milieu Ltd, a Brussels-based law and policy consultancy serving public sector institutions in Europe and internationally, including provision of regulatory analysis related to chemicals.
Dr. Michael Lipsett served as Chief of the Environmental Health Investigations Branch in the California Department of Public Health until retiring in 2013. Dr. Lipsett conducted air pollution epidemiological research studies and developed the medical and public health foundations for California’s ambient air quality standards. He played a central role in establishing California’s biomonitoring program, which evaluates toxic chemical exposures in California residents.
Joan Blades is a co-founder of LivingRoomConversations.org, a model for respectful civil discourse across ideological lines to find core shared values. She is a co-founder of MomsRising.org with over a million moms working together to make our country more family friendly and MoveOn.org with millions of members working for progressive change. A mediator and attorney by training, Blades co-founded Berkeley Systems.
Amy Coty is Director of Finance and Operations at the Berkeley School. She was previously Chief Financial and Operations Officer at Tehiyah Day School and came to nonprofit organizations after many years in the institutional asset management and banking industries. She served on the City of El Cerrito Planning Commission from 2009 to 2014 and currently serves on East Bay JCC’s Board of Trustees’ Audit Committee and the Audit Committee for the Jewish Film Institute.
Brandon Brown is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of San Francisco. Since 1998, he has been teaching undergraduates and running a modest research program at USF. He also spearheaded the planning and fundraising for the university’s new Lo Schiavo Center for Science and Innovation, which opened in 2013. He completed a bachelors degree in physics at Rice University and earned his PhD at Oregon State University studying vortex dynamics in superconductors.
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 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.
Amrita Singhal (Secretary) is a full time painter and printmaker in Berkeley. In her prior professional life, she worked as an attorney. She has a B.A. from UC Berkeley and a JD from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She served on the Board of the Berkeley Community Fund (BCF) from 2007-2016 and currently serves on the Advisory Board for Kala Art in Berkeley.
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.
Andrew McGuire – Policy
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
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.
Supporters of the Green Science Policy Institute:
Many thanks to the foundations listed below for their generous support of our work.
- The Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT)
- The Cornell Douglas Foundation
- The Fred Gellert Family Foundation
- The Jonas Family Fund
- The New York Community Trust
- The Stephen M. Silberstein Foundation
- The Wallace Genetic Foundation