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Please join us and forward this invitation:


Green Science Policy Institute Symposium: The Fire Retardant Dilemma
Fridays, May 8, and September 25, 2009, 8:30am – 4:00pm
150 University Hall, UC Berkeley, 2199 Addison Street, Berkeley

o Susan D. Shaw, director, Marine Environmental Research Institute (MERI), Blue Hill, Maine, Bioaccumulation and Health Risks of PBDEs and PFCs in Marine Mammals: Are We Running out of Time?
o Dr. Richard Murphy: Director of Science and Education, Holly S. Lohuis: Education/Research Associate, Ocean Futures Society Fireproof Killer Whales – J. M. Cousteau alerts the public to PBDE contamination
You can see their findings of PBDEs in Killer Whales on April 22 on PBS
Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Adventures
April 8 Sea Ghosts (Beluga Whales), April 22 Call of the Killer Whale
o Donna Mensching, DVM, University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine The ABCs and PBDEs of Feline Hyperthyroidism: Current Findings on a New Epidemic
o Kris Senecal, Research Biologist, US Army Natick Soldier Center, Protecting our Troops from Fire Injuries as well as Fire Retardants
o Carl Cranor, UC Irvine Toxic Torts: Science, Law and the Possibility of Justice

Panel Discussions:
o Can hyperthyroid disease in cats and health problems in marine mammals be related to exposure to fire retardants or other chemicals?
o How can we protect marine mammals, our troops, our pets and our families from halogenated flame retardants and other persistent organic pollutants?

This symposium series brings together contributors from industry, government, academia, and citizens groups to share information on fire retardant materials and policies and how to protect human and environmental health by reducing toxics in consumer products. This session will be focused on health impacts in marine mammals and cats and will also have a speaker on legal aspects of the issue and another from the army, where the fire retardants are needed to protect our troops.


For questions or to register for the session : FRDilemma@gmail.com or 510 644 3164.
Previous speakers at: http://greensciencepolicy.org/?page_id= <http://greensciencepolicy.org/?page_id=10>

Kind regards,
Arlene

Arlene Blum PhD
Arlene@arleneblum.com
Visiting Scholar, Chemistry
University of California, Berkeley
Executive Director, Green Science Policy Institute
Telephone: 510 644-3164 Mobile: 510 919-6363
Web: www <http://http://www.greensciencepolicy.org/> .greensciencepolicy.org <http://http://www.greensciencepolicy.org/> , http://www.arleneblum.com <http://http://www.arleneblum.com/>

The Green Science Policy Institute provides unbiased scientific information to government, industry, and non-governmental organizations to facilitate more informed decision-making about chemicals used in consumer products in order to protect health and environment world-wide.

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Many building materials and products used in interiors, including the foams used in furniture construction, are required by the building code to be treated with fire retardant chemicals – even those products used in the residential environment. In addition, many fabrics are required to be treated with these chemicals, including clothing and bed linens, and all textiles used in the commercial environment.

There is a tremendous and growing body of evidence that these chemicals accumulate in the body and cause a number of major medical problems including cancers and neurological, reproductive, thyroid, and developmental problems, as well as genetic mutations. Studies have shown that many marine mammals and household pets are dying as a result of the accumulation of these chemicals, and children in particular are becoming seriously ill as a result – many more than would likely die in the fires these products are intended to mitigate. It is inevitable that many of the increasing medical problems that we are all experiencing in this day and age are a result of these widespread practices as well.

Obviously, this is a major public health issue of incalculable proportions that affects not only people living today, but will affect future generations because of the genetic mutations and impossibility of getting rid of these chemicals. And yet, because these products are actually required by the building codes, we either cannot buy products for buildings or interiors without these chemicals already impregnated, or we as designers and architects must actually actively and deliberately specify them separately.

Yes, we are actually required by law to use products in your homes and businesses that are known to put the health and safety of every person who ever enters a building at clear and obvious risk every single day.

This is particularly ironic in light of the arguments that ASID and other pro-legislation groups are putting forth about how designers who go through their mandated educational, experience, and testing pathway are specially trained to protect the health and safety of the public, how this particular training pathway is necessary for us to know how to do that, and how no one who doesn’t have this particular cocktail of experiences could possibly know anything about protecting the public. This is one of their primary arguments for why interior designers should be licensed – but they are obviously basing the requirements on “knowledge” and codes that actually cause considerably more harm to people and the environment than it could ever prevent!

And what’s more, the harm resulting from these chemicals is happening even without them burning. Once they do ignite in a fire (and eventually, they will still burn), then even more toxic chemicals are released into the environment. All burning materials do this, but when you burn nasties like these compounds, you get even more and nastier gasses released into the air.

I wonder how many interior designers actually know anything at all about these issues, especially those who do have professional training? I know that I was certainly never taught about them in design school at either of the two prominent schools that I attended. Sure, they taught us about the codes requiring these chemicals and testing procedures, but definitely not about the hazards inherent in them (or how the tests for flammability don’t actually translate to real life conditions and are therefore themselves invalid as predictors of safety, but that’s a topic for a separate post).

And needless to say, this sure as heck isn’t a very green practice, either – and yet we are required to even apply these toxic chemicals to the most green of materials.

Please read the article below from the Green Science Policy Institute website for more details. (more…)

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