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

History

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:

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.

View our Publications

Our People:

Arlene BlumArlene Blum, Ph.D.
Founder and Executive Director
Arlene Blum PhD, biophysical chemist, author, and mountaineer is the Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute and a Research Associate in Chemistry at UC Berkeley. Blum’s research and policy work with the Institute has contributed to limiting the use of flame retardant, highly fluorinated, and other harmful chemicals in children’s sleepwear, furniture, electronics, and other products world-wide. Her current “mountain” is to educate decision makers and the public to reduce the use of entire classes of harmful chemicals.
Blum led the first American and all-women’s ­ ascent of Annapurna I, 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 infant daughter. She is the author of Annapurna: A Woman’s Place and Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life.
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 BrutonTom Bruton, Ph.D.
Senior Science and Policy Fellow
Tom Bruton leads the Institute’s research and policy work on highly fluorinated chemicals (PFAS). He received his Ph.D. in environmental engineering at UC Berkeley, where his research focused on cleanup of chemical contaminants, including PFAS, in soil and groundwater. He holds B.S. and M.S.E. degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Iowa State University, and Arizona State University, respectively.

Joe Charbonnet, Ph.D.
Sc
ience and Policy Associate 
Joe Charbonnet completed his Ph.D. in 2018 in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley, where his dissertation research focused on developing technologies to remove toxic contamination from stormwater. He also received his master’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from UC Berkeley and earned his bachelor’s degree in the same field from Georgia Tech.

Anna Soehl

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.

Heather Stone
Administrative Specialist
Heather earned a B.A. in Sociology from Mills College. Her thesis focused on women’s reproductive health justice and policy analysis. She previously worked as a marketing and business development consultant.

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.

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.

Michael Lipsett
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
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
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
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

Arlene Blum
Arlene Blum PhD, biophysical chemist, author, and mountaineer is the Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute and a Research Associate in Chemistry at UC Berkeley. Blum’s research and policy work with the Institute has contributed to limiting the use of flame retardant, highly fluorinated, and other harmful chemicals in children’s sleepwear, furniture, electronics, and other products world-wide. Her current “mountain” is to educate decision makers and the public to reduce the use of entire classes of harmful chemicals.
Blum led the first American ­ and all-women’s ­ ascent of Annapurna I, 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 infant daughter. She is the author of Annapurna: A Woman’s Place and Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life.

Amrita Singhal
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.

David Hochschild
David Hochschild has been a California Energy Commissioner since February 2013. His career has spanned public service, environmental advocacy and the private sector. He first got involved in the solar energy field in 2001 in San Francisco as a Special Assistant to Mayor Willie Brown where he launched a citywide $100 million initiative to put solar panels on public buildings. He went on to co-found the Vote Solar Initiative, a member advocacy organization promoting solar policies at the local, state and federal level. He served as executive director of a national consortium of leading solar manufacturers and worked for five years at Solaria, a solar company in Silicon Valley. In 2007-2008, he served as a commissioner at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Advisors:

Don LucasDonald 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.

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.

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

Press: About Us

CNN: Dangerous chemicals hiding in everyday products

Watch Video It was long believed that you could acquire "better living through chemistry." But that may really not be the case. In a landmark alliance, kn…

01 Jul 2016

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CBS Local: Fire-Suppressing Foam’s Toxic Chemicals Detected In Calif…

Watch Video When disaster strikes on a runway, fire suppressing foam can be a lifesaver. For decades, however, there was a hidden danger in the foam itsel…

17 May 2016

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AJ+: Is Your House Toxic?

Watch Video The shampoo in your shower, the foam in your mattress, your TV, couch, carpet, pillows...chemicals are everywhere. And they aren't all safe. …

25 Mar 2016

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Dr. Oz Show: Are there carcinogens in children's pajamas?

Watch Video By law, children's pajamas have to meet flammability standards to keep your kids safe from fires. And, people are asking questions a…

09 Mar 2016

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CNN: Where are dangerous toxins lurking in your home?

Watch Video It’s what allows the skier to slice through snow, and his suit stays dry: chemicals that repel water and oil, coating many microwave popcorn bags…

10 Jul 2015

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Guardian: Quest to eliminate chemical flame retardants from Californ…

A California regulation effectively eliminated the need for chemical flame retardants in furniture in November 2013. Two years later, though, experts s…

15 May 2015

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New York Times and Retro Report: A Flame Retardant That Came With It…

This New York Times article, featuring a video by Retro Report, concisely recounts the flame retardant saga. If you closely examine your living room cou…

03 May 2015

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New York Times: Commonly Used Chemicals Come Under New Scrutiny

A top federal health official and hundreds of environmental scientists on Friday voiced new health concerns about a common class of chemic…

01 May 2015

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Science Insider: Scientists call for limits on emerging class of com…

More than 200 scientists from 38 countries spoke with one voice today, calling for curbs on the global production and use of a class of chemicals found in …

01 May 2015

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Huffington Post: Scientists Issue Warning Over Chemicals Common In C…

In 1961, a DuPont toxicologist warned colleagues that exposure to their company's increasingly popular Teflon chemicals enlarged the livers of rats and …

01 May 2015

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National Geographic: These Chemicals in Pizza Boxes and Carpeting La…

Bottlenose dolphins swimming in a South Carolina harbor, polar bears lumbering across Greenland’s ice sheets, and families inhabiting Ohio River Valley…

01 May 2015

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Environmental Science & Technology: My New Sofa

After a long wait, my new sofa has finally arrived. Some visitors to our home might have mistakenly thought that we were holding onto our comfortable …

23 Apr 2015

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