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Clark Hall 108

The Fire Retardant Dilemma: Fire Safety, Human Health and Environmental Protection – Dr. Arlene Blum


Dr. Arlene Bloom

Arlene Blum, a biophysical chemist, carried out research in the 1970s that contributed to removing cancer-causing Tris flame retardants from children’s sleepwear. The same Tris is currently used to fire retard furniture and baby products in the U.S.A.  At a time when fire deaths are rapidly decreasing proposed flammability standards for consumer products could bring large amounts of toxic and persistent fire retardant chemicals into our homes and environment.

arlene-photo-for-brochureThis presentation will discuss the origins of fire safety standards, how the chemical industry uses them to market their products, and how alternative fire safety strategies can provide fire safety without toxicity. Fire-retardant chemicals in our homes should not pose a greater hazard to our health and environment than the risk of the fires they are supposed to prevent.

Blum is currently working to bring scientific research and policy together to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in consumer products to help prevent neurological, reproductive, and thyroid health problems as well as cancer.  Blum has founded The Green Science Policy Institute (GSP) to link academic scientists with policy opportunities as well as provide research to help industries become more sustainable in their materials and processes.  Her work has helped stop the unnecessary use of billions of pounds of potentially toxic fire retardants in consumer products.