Based upon extensive research and policy work focused on flame retardants and other harmful chemicals, Blum endeavors to protect human health and that of global ecosystems. The Green Science Policy Institute (GSPI), which she assembled in 2008, educates and builds partnerships among scientists, regulators, businesses, and public interest groups to develop innovative solutions for reducing harmful chemicals in products, including those in the buildings and furnishings industries.
Fast results from speaking up. “We looked at fire retardants in children’s sleepwear called ‘tris,’ and found they caused cancer and changed DNA,” she recounts. “I wrote a lead article in Science, and three months later, tris was removed from children’s sleepwear.”
She later discovered tris was being used in furniture and fabrics, which makes its way into breast milk and causes thyroid problems in pets. This led her to form the GSPI, which counts among its victories keeping two billion pounds of toxic chemicals out of electronic equipment manufactured worldwide. That effort was a wide-ranging collaboration of scientists, firefighters, and non-government organizations experts.
Blum also organizes mountain climbing for women. “I love going on expeditions, using every bit of your mental ability and physical strength to do something,” she says. “What I’m doing now feels like my most important expedition, making a healthier world for all of us.”