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 member of the American Bicentennial Everest Expedition. The package had nothing to do with the climb, or Blum’s status as the first American woman to attempt the world’s highest peak. It concerned pajamas. Inside were the proofs of an article she co-wrote for the journal Science about a chemical then widely used in children’s sleepwear. The subtitle was unusually blunt for a scientific paper: “The main flame retardant in children’s pajamas is a mutagen and should not be used.”

The article ran the following January. By April, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the flame retardant from children’s sleepwear. Manufacturers quickly switched to a related compound, chlorinated Tris. Blum and her co-author, a biochemist named Bruce Ames, tested it and found that it, too, was a mutagen and thus likely to be carcinogenic. Chlorinated Tris was then removed from pajamas as well…

Dashka Slater