Arlene Blum is a biophysical chemist, author, and mountaineer. She is a visiting scholar in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, and is also executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute. The institute brings government, industry, scientists, and citizens groups together worldwide to support chemical policies to protect human health and the global environment. Her current "mountain," which she considers the most challenging and important in her life, is to change policy to reduce the use of harmful chemicals in consumer products.
Blum's research and policy work has contributed to stopping the use of toxic flame retardants in children's sleepwear and other products. Currently, she teaches a class on chemistry and policy at UC Berkeley, and has taught at Stanford University and Wellesley College.
Blum led the first American and all-women's ascent of Annapurna I, considered one of the world's most dangerous and difficult mountains; completed the great Himalayan traverse across the mountain regions of Bhutan, Nepal, and India; and hiked the length of the European Alps with her baby daughter on her back.
She is the author of Annapurna: A Woman's Place, and Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life. She was selected by The Guardian as one of the world's 100 most inspiring women in 2011, and by the National Women's History Project as one of 100 "Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet." She is the founder of the annual Berkeley Himalayan fair and serves on the boards of Environmental Building News, the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition, and the Plastic Pollution Coalition.