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Mt. Everest, Healthy Jammies, Safe Sofas

One of the recurring items on my ever-evolving list of “things to do in my life,” is to hike the Appalachian Trail. Whether or not I’ll actually do that remains in question, but if I could choose an ideal companion to join me on such a journey, I’d most likely choose a Jewess named Arlene Blum.

A woman who has played a groundbreaking role in women’s mountaineering, Blum is best known for leading the first American—and all-women’s—ascent of Annapurna I (considered one of the world’s most dangerous and difficult mountains). She also led the first women’s team up Mt. McKinley, was the first American woman to attempt Mt. Everest, and has played a leading role in more than twenty mountain expeditions worldwide. She made the first traverse of the Great Himalaya Range of Bhutan, Nepal and India and hiked the length of the European Alps with her baby daughter on her back!

Along with knowing how to read a compass and being able to recount the history of the crampon (I am just speculating), Blum can also recite the Periodic Table of Elements as easily as I can recite the alphabet. She is a chemist, and in addition to leading climbing expeditions, she has another life passion: eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals in every-day consumer products.

Thirty years ago, she protected her children from sleeping in toxic jammies when she discovered that a flame retardant called Tris, used in many different pajama fabrics, caused human cells to mutate posing serious health risks.

Today, Blum is fighting the use of Tris and other flame retardants found in upholstered furniture. This morning, she was interviewed on Marketplace as part of its three-part series on fire retardants in your home and body. Click here to listen to the interview.

What an inspiring woman!

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How to cite this page

Namerow, Jordan. "Mt. Everest, Healthy Jammies, Safe Sofas." 27 June 2007. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on January 22, 2018) <>.


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