Arlene Blum ’66 urges action on toxic chemicals

Arlene is founder and executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute in Berkeley, California. In her editorial, “Tackling toxics” (Science , 11 Mar 2016, DOI 10.1126/science.aaf5468), she points out that toxic chemicals have been identified in many consumer products, and yet the chemical industry’s response has sometimes been to replace them with another toxic compound. This approach, which presumes every chemical innocent until proven otherwise, fails to protect the public. In fact, toxicity often runs in families, and Arlene calls out 6 families of chemicals that are added to consumer products and that are often harmful to health: “highly fluorinated chemicals, antimicrobials, flame retardants, bisphenols and phthalates, organic solvents, and certain metals.”

22 March update: A crystal ball for chemical safety” (Science, 12 Feb 2016, DOI 10.1126/science.351.6274.651) describes a new predictive toxicology tool that can help chemists identify potentially harmful chemicals before they are made in the lab.

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