Green Science Policy Institute (GSP) Publishes Article about Major Environmental Achievement

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Last year the Green Science Policy Institute, working with a powerful international coalition, stopped the passage of five different unneeded flammability standards that would have required the use of hundreds of millions of pounds of potentially toxic flame retardant chemicals in household electronic products around the world. The rapid sequence of events, from identification of the threat to the health and environment of the entire planet to the strategy that accomplished a success never before attempted at this scale, is a thrilling story that has just been published.

Last year the Green Science Policy Institute, working with a powerful international coalition, stopped the passage of five different unneeded flammability standards that would have required the use of hundreds of millions of pounds of potentially toxic flame retardant chemicals in household electronic products around the world. The rapid sequence of events, from identification of the threat to the health and environment of the entire planet to the strategy that accomplished a success never before attempted at this scale, is a thrilling story that has just been published.

The cover story of the January 2009 issue of the well-regarded electronics industry trade magazine Conformity, entitled "When Product Safety and the Environment Appear to Collide: The Defeat of the Candle Flame Ignition Requirement," describes how the "candle flame ignition" requirement began as a marketing strategy of the chemical industry, and how Dr. Arlene Blum, a visiting scholar in chemistry at U.C. Berkeley and noted Himalayan mountain expedition leader, became aware of it and built an international coalition of scientists, physicians, fire fighters, and environmental NGOs to oppose it. Among the NGOs, Friends of the Earth, the Center for Environmental Health, ChemSec - the International Chemical Secretariat and the European Environmental Citizens' Organization for Standardization in Brussels took leading roles. With their help and hard work, Blum and Michael Kirschner of consultancy Design Chain Associates put together compelling scientific arguments against the requirement, and delivered them to voting committees in over thirty countries. Although the majority of the electronics industry had not wanted this requirement to pass, they had found themselves powerless to stop the strong lobbying from the chemical industry without the GSP coalition. The article concludes with the lessons learned for industry Standards Development Organizations, the fact that the electronics industry and environmental NGOs were on the same side of this issue, and the need for more cross-industry communication on environmental issues.

According to Blum, who led the first successful American mountaineering expedition to Annapurna I, considered among the most dangerous and difficult of the world's highest peaks, and recently received a $100,000 Purpose Prize, in part for her work in defeating this proposed industry standard, "This was the hardest and most important challenge of my life and a great example of teamwork to stop unneeded chemicals and protect the world's environment."

Kirschner, an electronics industry veteran and consultant, noted, "The industry had told me that it would take a 'silver bullet' to stop this requirement. Through an amazing series of events and persistence we were able to design, forge, and fire it."

Read the article at http://www.conformity.com/artman/publish/feature_267.shtml or visit Conformity Magazine at http://www.Conformity.com and read the January 2009 cover story.

About the Green Science Policy Institute
The Green Science Policy Institute (GSP) provides unbiased scientific data to government, industry, and non-governmental organizations to facilitate more informed decision-making about chemicals used in consumer products. We promote research into safer alternatives, advocate for scientifically sound chemical policy, and work globally to reduce toxics in homes and the environment. Visit our website at http://www.GreenSciencePolicy.org to learn more.

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Arlene Blum

Michael Kirschner
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