Arlene Blum Awarded 2008 Purpose Prize

Thursday December 04, 2008 - 09:50:00 AM

Berkeley resident Arlene Blum, founder of the Green Science Policy Institute and leader of the first American expedition, comprised entirely of women, to climb Annapurna, will receive $100,000 for her work mobilizing scientists, government, industry and consumers to protect health by reducing toxins in our homes and the environment, as one of the 15 winners of the 2008 Purpose Prize, according to Civic Ventures, which awards the prize. 

The Purpose Prize, a three-year, $9 million program for people over 60 who are taking on society’s biggest challenges, is the nation’s only large-scale investment in social innovators in the second half of life. The Prize consists of six $100,000 awards and nine $10,000 awards. 

The Green Science Policy Institute provides unbiased scientific research information to government, industry and non-governmental organizations to facilitate informed decision-making about chemicals, and works on global scientifically sound chemical policy.  

“Most people have the impression that all the chemicals in commerce today have been fully tested for their health and environmental effects. This is not true,” said Blum in a statement. “Under the current regulatory system, the risks of many hazardous chemicals are minimized or ignored.” 

Purpose Prize winners are chosen from more than 1,000 nominees for their creative and effective work tackling problems ranging from poverty to pollution, recidivism to racial reconciliation, health care to homelessness.  

Over the past two years, Blum has led a science-based campaign that defeated five international standards that could have resulted in the unnecessary use of over a billion pounds of potentially toxic fire retardant chemicals in electronics each year, and contributed to a proposed federal furniture standard that addresses fire safety without the use of toxic chemicals in foam. In addition, she is working on an international level to develop cooperative toxic chemical reform strategies and has presented lectures and attended meetings in Beijing, Tokyo, and Brussels as well as in the United States and Canada.  

Summaries of all winners, as well as videos and photographs, are online at www.purposeprize.org.