Speaking before a roomful of breast cancer researchers and activists in San Francisco earlier this month, Arlene Blum revealed her latest plan to get toxic chemicals out of our homes. “We want to change the international building code,” she said, “so you can have more fire safety in buildings without flame retardants.”

“It’s going to be challenging,” she acknowledged, with characteristic understatement.

For close to six years, Blum, a biophysical chemist, visiting scholar at UC Berkeley and executive director of Berkeley’s Green Science Policy Institute, has worked with state Senator Mark Leno to get cancer-causing chemicals out of consumer products. Leno, who also spoke to the group, lamented the folly of pouring potentially dangerous chemicals into consumer products given the lack of data showing a fire safety benefit…

Liza Gross, QUEST series