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Media Advisory

Public seminar on flame retardants to be held Sept. 20

18 September 2007

ATTENTION: Environmental health reporters

Contact: Sarah Yang, Media Relations
(510) 643-7741 scyang@berkeley.edu

"The Fire Retardant Dilemma," a public seminar to discuss the balance between fire safety and environmental health. Sponsored by the Center on Institutions and Governance at the University of California, Berkeley, it is the third seminar in a series that brings together contributors from industry, government, academia and citizen's groups to share information and research results about new fire-retardant technologies, materials and policies.

8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20

150 University Hall, located at the corner of University Ave. and Oxford St.

Participants include Terry Collins, director of the Institute for Green Oxidation Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University; Susan Klosterhaus, environmental scientist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute; Arlene Blum, visiting scholar at UC Berkeley's Center on Institutions and Governance and co-author of a 1977 study on health risks posed by flame-retardant chemicals; and Bob Luedeka, executive director of the Polyurethane Foam Association.

Toxic flame retardant chemicals found in carpets, furniture, mattresses and even fish-flavored pet food have made news headlines recently. A study released last month by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientists found a possible link between flame retardants and thyroid disease in cats. And earlier this month, legislation that would have phased out brominated and chlorinated flame retardants from upholstered furniture died in the California Senate despite support from environmentalists, firefighter associations and the furniture and foam industries.

"It's time to ensure that fire retardant chemicals in our homes do not pose a greater risk to our health and environment than the risk of fires," said Blum, who organized the event. "There are alternatives to these toxic chemicals that do not compromise fire safety, and in this seminar, we will explore those options."