Art Supplies

Glob Color

“Artists have been using fruit, vegetable, and herb pigments to mix paint since ancient times. Glob channels that age-old method with vibrant paints that yield bright and beautiful colors when mixed with water.” Watercolor paints and non-nano face paint. Watercolor and face paints make with plant pigments. ” Glob paints are made from food-grade ingredients, so they are as safe as possible for little ones to play with.” They also sell ColorKitchen “naturally vibrant food colors…artificial dye-free, plant-based, vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO,” developed by the same woman.

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Wee Can Too

All natural art supplies in vibrant colors, made from vegetables. Finger paint, egg dying kit, crayons, play dough, sidewalk chalk, and creamy paint. “Always safe for curious mouths.” Some made with organic ingredients.

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A family run business that produces
a line of art supplies that gives children the tools to create using non-toxic, natural ingredients and environmentally friendly packaging. Eco-dough, eco-finger paint, eco-egg coloring, eco-crayons and more are made from all natural ingredients. Dyes are FDA-approved natural dye. Paints are colored with natural and organic fruit, plant and vegetable extracts from annatto seed, blue shade vegetable, curcumin, purple sweet potato, red cabbage, rice flour, earth clay. These products are sold in many stores as well as online.

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Filana Organic Beeswax Crayons

“Awesome crayons” made with “lots of organic beeswax…Filana™ crayons are made with natural waxes and over 25% certified organic beeswax. We never use petroleum waxes or paraffin. All our ingredients are GMO free. Filana™ crayons contain a special blend of organic and natural petroleum-free waxes, FDA-approved organic and inorganic pigments, and kaolin clay. Filana™ crayons conform to ASTM D-4236 standard, which indicates Filana™ crayons are certified nontoxic and meet or exceed specific quality standards. Filana™ crayons are CPSIA compliant. They have been tested by an independent laboratory and are certified to be compliant with the the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act). Each one of our crayons is hand-crafted in Langley, Washington. Our crayons are 100% made in the US.”

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Stubby Pencil Studio

“Looking for the most safe, non-toxic and creative art supplies for kids? Here’s where you start!…We have a passion and commitment to sourcing non-toxic art supplies for children…a wide selection of art materials that are healthy for children, toddlers, families and the environment…biodegradable crayons made from soy (not petroleum), sketchbooks made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper (not virgin trees), pencils made from sustainably harvested wood and recycled newspapers (not dying forests), natural paints made from fruits & veggies, and more… “ They have crayons, chalk, clay and dough, colored pencils, paints, markers, rubber stamps and ink, paste and glue, and more. But read descriptions carefully and choose wisely. Their criteria is nontoxic OR eco-friendly, so scented pencils made from recycled newspapers qualify, but I don’t recommend the artificial fragrance. Lots of nontoxic art supplies though, all in one place.

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Colors of Nature

Oil paints, watercolor paints, crayons, pastels, and kids’ paints. “Our paints are made exclusively with plant-based ingredients and mineral-based pigments, creating an earth-friendly and safe paint that won’t compromise your health, our planet or your artwork. Colors of Nature’s oil paints will dry to a smooth, hard and durable finish in less time than conventional oil paints.” Pigments are also sold separately.

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Toxics in the Arts

My guest Monona Rossol is a chemist, artist, industrial hygienist, and President/founder of Arts, Crafts and Theater Safety, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to providing health and safety services to the arts. Author of nine books on toxics in the arts, Monona also is the Health and Safety Director for Local 829 of the United Scenic Artists, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). I’ve known of and admired her work for decades. Monona was born into a theatrical family and worked as a professional entertainer from age 3 to 17. She enrolled in the University of Wisconsin where she earned: a BS in Chemistry with a minor in Math, an MS majoring in Ceramics and Sculpture, and an MFA with majors in Ceramics and Glassblowing and a minor in Music. While in school she worked as a chemist, taught and exhibited art work, performed with University music and theater groups, and worked yearly in summer stock. After leaving school, she performed in musical and straight acting roles in Off and Off Off Broadway theaters and cabaret. Monona has lectured and consulted in the US, Canada, Australia, England, Mexico and Portugal.




In this show Monona lays it on the line about how toxic the world is today. She took us to the Chemical Abstract Service website which registers chemicals. There is a counter that clicks every time a new chemical is registered. During the show 49 new chemicals were added to the 70 million plus chemicals that were already registered at the start of the show.

She also talks about the inadequate and misleading labeling of ALL art materials, including the ones you buy at art supply stores and the common art materials sold everywhere. If you have a school-aged child that has an art class, listen to this show.


Toxics in the Arts

Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Monona Rossol

Date of Broadcast: September 12, 2013

DEBRA: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And this is Toxic Free Talk Radio, where we talk about how we thrive in a toxic world.

And there are many, many toxic chemicals in the world. This is why we have to talk about how to be toxic-free, because there are toxic chemicals in your hairspray, toxic chemicals in your orange juice, toxic chemical in the interior of your car.

Everywhere, there are toxic chemicals. But there are also products that don’t have toxic chemicals in them, or have so many less toxic chemicals in them that really isn’t a danger.

So, you can do things to remove toxic chemicals from your home. You can do things to remove toxic chemicals from your body. And that’s what we talk about on this show.

Today, we’re going to be talking with a very interesting, very informed, very experienced woman who has been working in the field of toxics for many, many years. But first, there are a couple of things I want to tell you.

First is on the website browser I use, they give you a little quote of the day. And this morning, the quote was from Henry Ford.

He said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”

And I consider toxic chemicals to be a failure. And we can just begin again. We can just say, “Okay, toxic chemicals, be gone” and begin again more intelligently.

Many people already have begun again more intelligently. Everybody can do that, and just think in a different way.

Also, this morning, I was cleaning my house. I decided that I was just really going to get rid of everything that I was no longer using and was outdated. And I was cleaning my office. And you know how papers pile up and all those things. And by the time I got to the end of it, I thought, you just need to simplify. And one way to simplify is to just eliminate the toxic chemicals. Just eliminate everything that has toxic chemicals in it. And then life is much simpler because what’s left is everything that’s healthy and good for us.

So, I’ve known about my guest today. Her name is Monona Rossol. She’s a chemist, artist, industrial hygienist, and president and founder of the Arts, Crafts and Theater Safety. It’s a not for profit corporation dedicated to providing health and safety services to the arts.

Now, I have known of her—because I just met her on the phone a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve known of her for as long as

I’ve been doing my work which is more than 30 years. So this obviously says how I old I am and how old she is.

But I want to tell you that we are both still alive and kicking and working in the field of toxics.

The other day, I was talking to somebody on the phone, a young man who made reference to people who were born after 1970 not knowing how to use computers. And I said, “Oh, that puts me in that category.” And he says, “No!” And I said, “Yeah.” And I said, “How old do you think I am?” And he said, “30 years old.” And I said, “Hahaha.” He said, “It must be because you don’t use toxic chemicals.”

And I think that’s true. People who are away from toxic chemicals are much younger much longer.

So hi, Monona.


DEBRA: How are you doing today?

MONONA ROSSOL: Well, I’ve had such a schedule because, I don’t know if you know, but OSHA has a December 1st deadline for a whole new training on chemicals […] So, every single employee is supposed to be doing this training. And the colleges, some of them are just figuring it out. So I’m like a one-legged lady in an ass-kicking contest trying to run all over the country.

DEBRA: Well, good for you. There’s so much we can talk about. I hardly know where to begin.

First, just tell us how you got interested in toxic chemicals. Why do you do what you do?

MONONA ROSSOL: Well, it wasn’t obvious at first because what I really wanted to do was be a doctor. But remember that was the ‘50s. And I also was raised in show business. Now, there’s no discrimination in show business because as long as men can’t sing soprano, you didn’t have a problem.

So I left my family at 17, got off the road, and enrolled in the university, got all A’s, and expected to be welcomed in medical school. And of course, the courts had just decreed they had to take 10% women, and they gave us this lecture telling us how they hated us and they didn’t want us there. And I just gave them the sign of the finger and left.

So, I got a degree in chemistry instead with a minor in math. I wanted to be a chemist. And in fact, the industrial lab I went to work for was going to pay my way through graduate school in chemistry.

However, I was a member of the NAACP and participated in marches. I couldn’t get security clearance. And when they found that out, they had no use for me. So then I thought, “Well, I’ll go into arts.” Surely, there’s no discrimination.

And it was the worst of all!

Nevertheless, I worked as a research chemist at the University of Wisconsin to put myself through art school. And every day I went from one department to the other and back again. And it dawned on me, I was seeing the same chemicals in both departments. I was seeing acids for etching and solvents and pigments and dyes and all of the same stuff I was seeing in the chemistry department.

So, I started doing lectures on this, and people just walked out. And I thought, “You know? I found something that’s obvious, and it’s true, and it makes people this mad, it’s probably a good thing.”

And so, it always was a sideline. And sooner or later, it took over everything that I did because there isn’t really anybody else that really does this in this area. I mean, there are industrial hygienists, and there are safety professionals, but very few with real expertise in theater and in arts.

DEBRA: Yes, I’m very impressed with how you brought your interests in toxics into a very specific area that you have an interest and experience in. And I think it’s wonderful because, you’re right, that nobody could—somebody would need to have—like I can’t do it. I’m not an industrial hygienist or a chemist, but as a consumer advocate, I can look at other products that I’m familiar with. But I’m not familiar with the world of art materials like you are.;

And so you are absolutely the perfect person to do it. And I’m sure many people are very grateful that you are doing that.

MONONA ROSSOL: It is also a tricky field. I mean, I carry $2 million in liability insurance. And I plan buildings. It’s not an easy field for people to do. It can’t be just because people are interested.

And in fact, if this radio broadcast is heard by somebody who really has degrees in chemistry and expertise in both fields, I’ll give them the corporation. I’m really looking for someone to help out with some of this work because it’s far too much for me.

DEBRA: Well, and I’m sure there’s going to be more because, as more and more people become familiar with the problem, and that there is more acceptance that toxics are a problem—I understand that years ago, people would just walk out and say, “What is she talking about?” It’s sometimes a difficult thing to confront.

So, I’m looking at your biography here on your website—it’s the website—and there’s just a whole list of things that you do, including things like doing building planning to put in the proper ventilation into buildings so that art materials can be used.

Before we go on, because I want you to tell us a lot about the toxic chemicals in the arts and better alternatives, but can you explain what an industrial hygienist is?

MONONA ROSSOL: Doesn’t it sound like we clean teeth in a factory?

DEBRA: Yeah!

MONONA ROSSOL: It really does. It means we look at various workplaces and look at all of the issues having to do with health and safety and protective equipment and so on in those places—and advise.

And my areas are primarily in ventilation and ventilation design and in training toxic chemical protection (protection of workers from toxic chemicals and so on).

Over the years, I’ve become a regulatory expert by virtue of—I’ve been reading federal register in hard copies since 1977. I don’t know if anybody else is that crazy.

DEBRA: I read a little bit of federal register, but probably not as much as you.
We need to take a break, but we’ll be right back. I’m Debra Lynn. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. And my guest today is Monona Rossol, chemist, artist, industrial hygienist, and savior of artists from toxic chemicals. And we’ll be right back.


DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And my guest today is Monona Rossol, chemist, artist, industrial hygienist, president and founder of Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety, a not for profit corporation that addresses the health and safety in the arts. And she’s also the author of nine books—isn’t it, nine books?


DEBRA: And I think that your first book was in 1990, is that right?


DEBRA: 1986, that’s right. I see one down here in 1986. My first one was in 1984.

MONONA ROSSOL: Okay, there we go.

DEBRA: So, we’ve been doing this for about the same period of time. So, the field of arts is a very wide field. I’m trying to figure out where to start to ask you a question because you cover everything from, I guess, painting and sculpting, to theaters.

Give us an overview of the kinds of things that you work with.

MONONA ROSSOL: Well, I actually have two hats. You know me as the president of Arts, Crafts & Theater Safety, which is for anyone who calls in the arts at all. But I’m also the safety officer for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local USA829. So I get to all the film locations, and all of the TV studios and all of that kind of thing as well.

And we’ve also formed here in New York something called a New York Production Locals. So when I go on those […], I’m talking to everybody, including SAG and everybody.

So, it’s a very interesting career. And that’s why I’m sure I couldn’t be doing all of this if there were a lot of other people to split up this work. But when I walk into an art studio, or even if it’s a private studio or whatever, what I’m looking for is the things they probably looked at over and over but don’t see.

DEBRA: Like what?

MONONA ROSSOL: A lot of the electrical hazards, a lot of chemicals that they could replace for safer ones. Sometimes, there are ventilation systems they think work, and they don’t. Many private artists really don’t have ventilation. And they think they can by just putting a fan and a window. And sometimes that’s actually counterproductive if they don’t know where the air is coming from in that […]

So, there all those basics. And sometimes, we can fix these things by just explaining to them what the principles are, why we’re going to put the fan somewhere else, and we’re going to do this. And after all these years, very often, if there is a solution, I’d probably know it.

DEBRA: I’m sure you do. I understand that because it’s easy for me to walk into a house, in a different environment, I can go into a house, because I’ve gone into so many of them, I can immediately point out where the toxic chemicals are. And it’s the same toxic chemicals in all the houses. People are using the same kind of materials and products and they’re all being toxic.

And so, I would imagine that you’re doing pretty much what I do when I walk in a house as you’re looking and finding the toxic chemicals and showing people how to replace them with something safer.

MONONA ROSSOL: Getting all those little hidey holes where the bad stuff is hiding out.

DEBRA: Yeah, yeah. So, what are some typical toxic chemicals that you find in the arts?

MONONA ROSSOL: Well, of course, archival pigments are not FDA-approved food dyes. All of the pigments are toxic. And there’s a mistaken type of labeling that tells you these things are non-toxic. Well, that’s just not possible.

They’re either untested organic pigments, or they are metallic pigments—almost all of which are toxic. They can be based on cadmium, lead, chrome, mercury, or whatever.

Because art materials are exempt from the Consumer Lead Laws, they also have their own very, very inferior labeling standard, which literally can call untested chemicals non-toxic. And many times, they will call lead products as non-toxic because the toxicologist who okays that labeling will say, “Well, yes, if it’s used as directed, they shouldn’t get more exposure than we think is okay.” Well, okay, for who, number one; and number two, cyanide plating baths are non-toxic if used as directed too. I would really like to know what’s in it. And I’ve never seen artist use the material as directed. So, that’s just […]

It’s really important to change the labeling, change people’s attitude, so that they can look at these things with the eyes that they need to, to realize that they’re not what they think they are, that the organic pigments have not been tested for long-term toxicity, and many of them are in chemical classes that we know will be toxic or cause cancer if they ever are tested.


DEBRA: Oh, there we go! Here we go. So, I think you’re hearing me now.

I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. We just had a technical difficulty with my computer. So Monona, are you there? Okay, we’re getting our guest back on the line.

So, we’ve been talking about toxic chemicals in the arts. And I didn’t hear the last thing that she said, but we’ll get this all sorted out. And I’m just writing a note to my producer here. Computers are interesting things.

MONONA ROSSOL: Yes, I’m here.

DEBRA: Oh, good. Let’s get back to what we were talking about.

MONONA ROSSOL: When was I talking to air?

DEBRA: You were just talking to air.

But I wanted to ask you a question. You mentioned about the labeling laws don’t apply to art materials. Are we talking about professional art materials or commercial art materials that people would buy at the drugstore or art material store? What are we talking about?

MONONA ROSSOL: Children’s, everything. Everything comes under a separate law. It’s a separate amendment to the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. And I’m one of the full activists that got it passed. We thought we were doing a good thing. And it turns out to be absolutely the worst thing we could have done.

What this law does is it institutes an American Society of Testing Material Standard called ASTMD4236. It’s a chronic hazard labeling standard. In other words, acute tests very often are done on chemicals like whether you put it in your eye, you go blind or you swallow it, you drop dead. But things like cancer, birth defects, long-term organ damage, those things weren’t being tested for at all in the ‘80s, not at all.

DEBRA: That’s right.

MONONA ROSSOL: So we got a law because there were all of these products for children that contain asbestos, powdered asbestos, and lead, and all kinds of things.

So, we did get this law in. But unfortunately, we were young and dumb. And the way the law reads is a toxicologist reviews the ingredients as provided by the manufacturer and then certifies the labeling as meeting the standard.

And if he decides that it is non-toxic, then they certify that they can use that label. And if he certifies it, it doesn’t need any warnings. And if it’s really serious, he will specify the warnings. And then, you will see that all are materials sold legally in this country say “conform to ASTMD4236.”

DEBRA: And it says non-toxic right on the label.

MONONA ROSSOL: Right! And who pays the toxicologist for the review?

DEBRA: The manufacturer.

MONONA ROSSOL: Yeah, yeah […]

DEBRA: But we shouldn’t just ignore those labels.

MONONA ROSSOL: Oh, yes. Oh, please, worse to ignore them.

Plus, you see, if you were not using that system, it says 1% of the toxic material or 0.1% of a known non-carcinogen, you have to declare it on the material safety datasheet so we can at least find out if there’s some real bad stuff in there. But the people who label under ASTMD4236 simply reference the standard and tell you nothing—absolutely nothing.

So, it’s a terrible law. I’ve called for having it repealed because it’s just not working at all.

DEBRA: So, should parents be concerned about children—like you think crayons and markers—

MONONA ROSSOL: I would be. Here’s what I would tell all parents.

DEBRA: Please tell all parents.

MONONA ROSSOL: Those are not food dyes. And even if they were food dyes, I wouldn’t want my kid playing with red #40.

They need to not do things like finger painting, which kids love that. But you need to teach kids, if it’s brightly colored, you don’t put your hands in it and whoosh around in it. You need to teach them common sense. We have to stop breaking out the cookies and the juice after the class because these things have long-term issues. It’s just common sense.

DEBRA: I remember in school, they were just taking the finger paint—and not even the finger paint, tempera paint and stuff—and we were just putting our hands in it. Are they still doing that?

MONONA ROSSOL: Well, absolutely! Well, if it wasn’t for crayons, I’d have gone hungry as a child. I don’t know about you, but we need to not do that.

DEBRA: Well! I’m so glad that you’re telling us about this because I thought that if it says non-toxic on the label, and that there is an organization behind it that it should mean that when they say a toxicologist is checking this out.

MONONA ROSSOL: It doesn’t work. I’ve actually done two lawsuits where I was retained as an expert for brain damaged kids. We’ve got big settlements from the ceramic glaze people. And that toxicologist was on the other side of those losing cases.

I have a long history with this labeling. It is not what people think it is. And I would just really counsel people not to pay any attention to it and use common sense in working with the art materials.

The real secret to industrial hygiene is nobody was ever harmed by a chemical to which they were not exposed. So get it off your skin. Don’t snort it.

DEBRA: That’s the first rule of poisoning is that the first thing you do when somebody is poisoned is take them away from the poison. If you’ve been exposed to something that’s poisonous, go out of the room, throw up the poison if you ate it.

That’s the first thing that they do, is to take people aware from the poison. I think why not just stay away from the poison to begin with?

MONONA ROSSOL: Way back since the renaissance, and even way before, there was this thing we called a brush. If the paint goes from the tube, to the pallet, to the brush, to the canvass, you didn’t have an exposure. But if you can’t get it to your head, and you’re going to be putting your hands on that, it’s just not smart.

Lead is a skin absorber. We don’t know about many of the other metals.

DEBRA: So basically, you don’t want to put your hands in it. So, if a child were using crayon, but not touching it, or using paints with a brush, that would be safer than putting their hands in it or eating the crayon.

MONONA ROSSOL: Yes. And the art room should not be a kitchen.

DEBRA: Certainly! You put down a sandwich, and it gets paint all over it.

MONONA ROSSOL: And dust doesn’t settle everywhere, but the coffee cup. We just have to get common sense.

DEBRA: Yes, it is common sense. Wow! I’m just sitting here, so stunned to hear this because it’s a lot worse than I thought.

So, people can get material safety datasheets for the art materials, but they don’t say anything, you said.

MONONA ROSSOL: Well, here’s the really interesting thing. You called at a perfect time because just about the time people finally learn about material safety datasheets, bingo, you’re going to have to learn a new name. It’s going to be a safety datasheet now.

DEBRA: Tell us about that.

MONONA ROSSOL: It’s going to be a safety datasheet now.

All the laws had changed. And the reason is we either have to change all of our safety datasheets and our industrial labels.

The art materials labels aren’t going to change, but the industrial materials have to change. And a lot of the stuff that you buy in the hardware store, a lot of that’s all going to change because, if we don’t, we can no longer expect export to the rest of the world because the rest of the world has passed us by.

The Europeans were the first to adopt a UN system of labeling and safety datasheets that makes a lot more sense than the crud we’ve got. And almost every other country in the world has adopted it. So we have no choice. And it’s a joy because this new safety datasheet has 16 sections. It’s very detailed. It’s not up to the manufacturer what he wants to say and how he wants to say it.

DEBRA: When do these go into effect?

MONONA ROSSOL: They’ve got until December 1st to do the training. And by 2015, they’ve got to be completely switched over.

So, it’s a very interesting thing. And how many people know it? It’s law. I’m amazed that people don’t know, but this has happened.

Well, one of the things is nobody watches the OSHA regulations because they haven’t basically changed essentially since 1971 when OSHA was founded. Every time they tried to change something, the industry would form coalitions, take them to court, and get it reversed. So, your quality standards to the workplace are still primarily 1971 ones.

So, it’s been a hassle. But this change went right through because industry can’t really fight it. It’s not up to us. So, there is a little speed on the horizon there.

They’re still not going to do what the Europeans are doing in terms of their toxicity labeling because they’re going to either tell you the tests or the words “no data available” are going to be on each test blank, so that we will really know that most of the chemicals that we’re using have never been tested for cancer, never been tested for reproductive hazards, never been tested for any of this. Nothing you use has been tested. We think they have, but they haven’t.

DEBRA: No, they haven’t.

MONONA ROSSOL: And you’ll know. You think somebody must be testing. No! They’re absolutely not. They test when there’s a pile of bodies, and somebody has to find out why. That’s always been the case.

DEBRA: Why do you think that is the case? Why do you think that all these chemicals are being allowed on the market?

MONONA ROSSOL: That’s really simple because it started in the Industrial Revolution. It’s never been any different. The only thing that’s been different is advertising, which we’re a bunch of fools to read.

When Madam Curie and her husband worked out isolating radium, what happened? People said, “Look at that. It glows in the dark. It must be good for you.” They put it in patent medicines.

DEBRA: And they put it in dishware. There used to have glow in the dark dishware.

MONONA ROSSOL: There are only two steps to progress. And that’s been two in the rest of the world too until recently, until Europe woke up and spilled the coffee. Find the chemical, find the market source. There’s never been any testing in between.

And so, I’m looking at the Chemical Abstract Service website right now on my computer.

DEBRA: Oh, yes, let’s talk about that.

MONONA ROSSOL: There are 73,193,912 chemicals that have been registered. Now, if I waited a second, it will be 13. You can watch the counter. It’s 13 now.

DEBRA: Well, we need to take a break actually. We need to take a break, and let’s find out when we come back from the break what the number is.

You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And I’m talking with the marvelous Monona Rossol about toxic chemicals in the workplace, in art supplies, in our children’s art supplies, in our homes. She’s just a wonderful source of information, and we’ll back right after this.


DEBRA: I switched from microphone through the computer to telephone, and I noticed I still have my microphone on. I was hoping that if I’d just unplug it, it didn’t get sound over there and sound over here. Anyway, I’m back. And we’ll continue.

So, what’s the number?

MONONA ROSSOL: Well, 73 million, of course, is the big one. When I wrote my book, “Pick Your Poison” in 2011, it was 50 million. It’s now 73,193,994. So it will probably, while we’re talking here, pop over to 73,194,000. It’ll pop over to.

And there are about a thousand chemicals worldwide that have been evaluated for their cancer effects. Figure it out!

It’s just popped over.

DEBRA: I’m just looking my book, Toxic-Free. When I wrote my book, Toxic-Free, a few years ago—let’s see what the number was then. Oh, here! Now, what’s the date on my book? It was published in just a couple of years ago. Copyright 2011. So, this was in 2010 when I was writing this. And I wrote it on Page 15. On that day, it was 57,110,200. And in the time it took me to type that number, it has switched to 201.

MONONA ROSSOL: In 2009, when Europe had adopted this rule that I was talking about to change all of this and to force industry to test the 30,000 high production volume chemicals that they want tested, that’s when the speed really increased. In 2009, they were registering chemicals at a rate of 25 per minute. So, it was just awesome.

And it’s infinite. If you know anything about chemistry, it’s infinite. There’s no end to the number of chemicals that they can invent. And 21 million of those are available for quick catalog purchase right now.

DEBRA: 21 million! You know, when people talk about chemicals, just like the news media, they say there are 80 million chemicals, but there’s way more than 80 million—not 80 million, they say 80,000 chemicals. And those are the ones that are always used.

MONONA ROSSOL: 84,000 is the number in TSCA, the Toxic Substance Control Act that EPA has control over supposedly.

But EPA has no control over those chemicals because, in order to force industry to test any of them, they have to prove beyond doubt—in fact, usually in court—that there is a substantial risk.

Well, how do you prove a substantial risk when the whole definition of this is is there is no data? It’s a catch-22 law. And that’s why of the 83,000 until just recently, they only tested around 200 of those 84,000.

DEBRA: And then what happens—now please confirm this for me, for our listening audience. Then what happens is that these toxic chemicals go out into the market, and people get sick. And then, they excited about something bisphenol-A, and then there are some studies, and then maybe they ban it.

MONONA ROSSOL: That’s right. And usually, it’s only after there are complaints, issues, somehow that come up.

And industry loves it when the activists get together and ban a chemical. Oh, my goodness, they know you’re wasting your time, and your energy, and your money to do this. Bisphenol-A, bisphenol-S, bisphenol-C, bisphenol-F are already in your bottles. What do they do? We don’t know! There’s no point banning a chemical if you aren’t going to make them test the substitute for that chemical.

DEBRA: So, given all this, given that there are all these toxic chemicals out there, and they’re everywhere, and if we ban one, there’s just another one coming down the pike every second, what’s the number now? Are you still on the website?

MONONA ROSSOL: Yes, 72,194,039. So, it flipped over to the 4000 and it’s now 4039 on the end. That was 40.

DEBRA: And to think that’s while we were talking. And listeners, Monona and I talked about starting the clock on this at the beginning of the show, and then we forgot to do it. So we were going to find out how many new toxic chemicals are introduced during the period of time of this show. You can see how fast it’s ticking. And this is […]

MONONA ROSSOL: Well, I did write it down. I wrote down the number just we before we started talking. So when we finish, let me know and I will subtract it and tell you.

DEBRA: Okay, good. Good! I’m glad you did that.

So, what is your recommendation? What is your recommendation given that we are living in this toxic experiment? What would you like to talk about?

MONONA ROSSOL: The thing we can do, all of us, is stop being fools. Stop believing the advertising. And stop believing that somebody is testing and somebody is looking out for us. If you just get that right there, you’ve made a difference.

Second of all, we have to start talking to people and the activist organizations about not being pansies and banning chemicals one at a time without asking for testing. I know there’s a Lautenberg bill that you could support, but that list was 200 chemicals, revolving list. That’s not the real issue.

We have to open the discussion again on what’s really going wrong because we’re wasting our time. And industry will be able to do a dance around what people are planning now.

Really, education is it, and political action is it, because you can’t protect yourself. The computer you’re looking at, the computer I’m looking at, you can’t sell that in Europe. You cannot your computer in Europe. Why? Because it contains the polybrominated biphenyl ethers that are banned over there, some of the phthalates that are in there. They’re coming out in your house […] They’re in your urine and then in your blood. They’re in there. That computer is made with lead, cadmium, mercury and chrome. You can’t sell that in Europe. They make them without.

Why don’t we know that? Why don’t we just tell industry, “Hey, the ones you make for Europe? Make them for us. We’ll pay the extra buck and a half.”

That’s what we’ve got to do. We have to inform ourselves. We have to tell industry.

What we don’t get is government will really do what we want it to if we get together and make them. We do have that ability.

But nobody wants to spend the time, the energy, nobody wants to learn anything. I’ve never seen a culture that doesn’t want to learn.

But it’s tough. I train and I could tell you that there’s a culture out there that just wants to be left alone to do whatever they’re doing now. We have to change that. And I don’t know how.

But all of the other things—trying to avoid this, trying to avoid that, it’s helpful. But damn, it’s not getting at the root of the problem.

DEBRA: No, it’s not getting at the root of the problem. In my life, I’ve seen it for myself and for other people that if you make life choices, you can protect yourself to a certain degree. My health used to be very bad because of my toxic chemical exposures. And now, it’s much better. And even at my age, people don’t think that I’m my age. I think that toxic chemicals actually make you look older. They damage your skin and all those kinds of things.

People are interested in anti-aging. Toxic chemicals, avoiding them, will certainly help you look younger.

I forgot what I was going to say. Toxic chemical moment. What were we talking about before?

MONONA ROSSOL: We were talking about things that you can avoid to make life better.

I mean, if you stop eating shellfish—by the way, did you see the new study, the 212 chemicals that the Centers for Disease Control is monitoring in all of us, and all those PCBs, and all that stuff?

DEBRA: Is there a new one? I saw one about…

MONONA ROSSOL: There was one done in Europe. Exeter University in London took all of that data and divided it by socioeconomic status.

DEBRA: I haven’t seen that.

MONONA ROSSOL: The poor have high levels of nine substances. And they’re the ones you’d expect—lead, cadmium, industrial chemicals like antimony, the cheap phthalates that are in vinyl plastics and a few other things.

But the rich got a dose. Boy, do they get a dose. That’s really good news to me. They got it from sunscreen, they got it from shellfish. They get mercury and cesium and thallium.

DEBRA: I’m going to look up this study.

MONONA ROSSOL: Look up Exeter UK socioeconomic data. They divided the data by socioeconomic status. It’s on—I think it’s EPH. I should be able to find it. Environmental Health Perspective, I think it’s there.

DEBRA: I’ll be able to find it.

MONONA ROSSOL: Yes, it’s cool. I just wrote an article about it. I can send you that too.

DEBRA: Well, tell us what the number is because we’ve only got a second.

MONONA ROSSOL: The number of what?

DEBRA: The number that’s on the…

MONONA ROSSOL: Oh, the number, okay. I’m going to check it now.

DEBRA: That’s the final music. We’ll just keep talking over it.

MONONA ROSSOL: Yeah, 484 chemical were invented while we talked.

DEBRA: Thank you so much Monona. Just go to Toxic Free Talk Radio, and go to her website,. It’s and find out her website. Go there. And thank you so much. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. Bye!


Natural Art Supplies

My guest today is Leah Fanning Mebane, founder of Natural Earth Paints. We’ll be talking about some of the toxic exposures from art paints, and safer paints to use. Leah began using all natural earth paints about five years ago, after being an oil painter for more than eighteen years. She eliminated all solvents and toxins from her studio and then began collecting her own pigments from nature. This transition away from toxic, modern paints gave her the joy of doing no harm to the environment and the freedom to express her art and passion in partnership with the earth. Her constant allergies and headaches cleared up with the removal of solvents and toxins in the studio. She also developed a deeper connection with the natural world as she spent more time outside the studio directly connecting with the origins of her paints. In 2010 she launched the business, Natural Earth Paint, with her husband Drew and now creates and sells natural art supplies all over the world. Their products include Children’s Earth Paints, Natural Face Paints, Natural Egg Dye Kits for Easter, Earth Oil Paint Kits and also professional, non-toxic supplies for artists. See her beautiful earth paintings at





Natural Art Supplies

Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Leah Fanning Mebane

Date of Broadcast: September 03, 2013

DEBRA: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd and this Toxic Free Talk Radio where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world. It really is necessary for us to talk about this because there are many toxic chemicals out in the world.

Yet, there are also many things that are not toxic and what this show is about is helping us identify what’s toxic so that we can avoid it, but also to identify what are the good safe things that we can use and do so that we can have good health and be happy and productive and help the lives that we want to live without being encumbered by the dangers of toxic chemicals. That’s why we’re here.

Today is Tuesday, September 2nd, 2013. We just had the Labor Day weekend. I hope you had a great weekend. I had a great weekend because I was redesigning my website. It’s not completely done, but a lot of the new designs are up. So if you want, go take a look at, I’m really happy with the way it looks and I’m excited to finish that project this afternoon.

I also wanted to tell you about something that I realized this weekend. Some of you who have been listening on a regular basis know that recently, my husband in 26 years and I are no longer together. We actually were divorced a couple of years ago, but we still were friends and housemates. I know that sounds strange. Anyway, he is now off living in California after he was in an accident where he broke his back.

So I’m on my own for the first time in 26 years and I’m just noticing how many things he used to do for me that I don’t know how to do.

One of them that came up for me this weekend was checking the air in my tires on my car. I think probably before I met him 26 years ago, I knew how to do that, but I haven’t done it in 26 years because he always did it for me. I’m wondering how many pounds of pressures is supposed to be in a tire? How do I use the tire gauge? And where do I go to put new air in my tire, more air in the tires?

I realized that if you’re going to go do something, if you’re going to move into a better life, like with toxics, if you are going to remove toxic chemicals in your life, there are just going to be things that you’re going to need to learn. You’re going to need new information, you’re going to need new skills. You’re not going to be doing things in the same way as you have been accustomed to doing them.

That’s another reason why I’m doing this show. It’s because I’ve been living without toxic chemicals for more than 30 years. I know something about those, but I realized that most people in the world don’t. They don’t have that kind of experience.

By listening to the show, by bringing my guest on, you can see what the possibilities are. But you are going to have to learn a new way of doing things and that’s going to require a little bit of trial and error and finding out where to go to buy these products, how to choose them, all those things. Just like I need to learn where to go put air in my tire, you’re going to need to learn where you can go to buy an organic cotton sheet or whatever it is that you wanting to buy.

All of that kind of information is on my website. It’s on the show. It’s on the website of other people. It really is all out there for you. It’s just you taking those steps to decide that you’re going to live in a toxic free way and learn how to do that. I’ll try to make it as easy and fun and interesting as possible. But it all comes down to you taking those steps.

And I do want to just encourage you by saying that every time, in the past 30 years that I have decided to give up something familiar and toxic for something unfamiliar and safer, I’ve always been happy with that choice. It’s always more pleasurable to use and more interesting and more beautiful and more compatible with me.

So take a chance. Do something different. Learn a new skill. Get familiar with something new. It’s going to be worth it, believe me.

So today, we’re going to talk about art. We’re going to talk about paint and about toxic chemicals in paint and about safe paints that you can use that are made from earth pigments and other natural ingredients.

My guest today is Leah Fanning Mebane. I want to make sure I said that right, Leah Fanning Mebane. She has a website called where she sells paints that she has developed made out of natural materials. She’s also an incredible artist and you can go to her artist website, which is and see her gorgeous paintings. She was an oil painter for many years until she got sick. And then she developed some natural paints.

Leah, thanks for being with me today.

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: Thank you so much for inviting me, Debra.

DEBRA: You’re welcome. So tell us your story instead of me telling your story.

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: Oh, yes. I started out way back in art school back when I was first learning how to paint with oil paints for the first time. And my teachers there all pretty much taught all the standard way of teaching oil paint with all the toxins involved. And they were all really wonderful teachers, but they just all taught the same thing. So I just assumed that all of the toxins were just a necessary evil to painting really high quality art.

So I just accepted it back then. Even from the beginning in my studio, as soon as I started to paint, I would have really bad headaches and allergy reactions and sneezing. It’s pretty immediate right when I started.

But then after that, I moved to Boulder, Colorado and met my husband. We started getting into all natural earth-friendly everything and I became a fulltime artist. I just continued to use all of these super toxic supplies just because that was my art and I felt like I couldn’t sacrifice quality to make any changes. So I just continued suffering all of my crazy symptoms for quite a while.

And then we had a shift. We moved to Oregon and we got even more into just trying to have a zero footprint on the earth. we built a natural earth and home and we’re there for many years, off the grid, with composting toilets and stoves and just a very natural non-toxic lifestyle.

But I was still using all these toxic paints in my studio down the road, which is crazy. I just didn’t know of any alternatives at the time. I didn’t know that anything could be high quality and eco-friendly.

DEBRA: What kind of symptoms did you have?

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: Mainly just really severe headaches and sneezing and fatigue and just various allergic reactions.

DEBRA: I think a lot of people are having those kinds of symptoms, but they don’t know that it’s toxic chemicals.

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: Yeah, absolutely.

DEBRA: So tell us about when you got to a point where you have decided that was enough and you found the paints that you use now.

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: Well, something happened, I guess it was five years ago, which completely was a huge catalyst to get me to make a huge change. I got pregnant for the first time with my baby. Literally, about a week later, I also got accepted for a really huge solo show, art exhibit, which would happen the week before my child was due, which meant that I would paint about 25 huge oil paintings throughout my entire pregnancy.

DEBRA: And before you tell us the rest of it, we need to take a short commercial break.


DEBRA: I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. My guest today is Leah Fanning Mebane. She does beautiful artwork. You should go to her website and see her paintings at And she’s going to be telling us more about the all-natural toxic free earth paints that she developed when we come back.


DEBRA: I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. My guest today is Leah Fanning Mebane. She’s an artist who has developed some totally toxic free natural earth paints and we’re going to learn more about them now.

So Leah, tell us about your inspiration. You had a big show, you needed to paint a lot of paintings and you were pregnant all at the same time. So then what happened next?

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: Well, when that happened, it just launched me into figuring out how to get rid of all of my toxins immediately. I couldn’t wait at all anymore and I just did tons of research and experimentations. I just figured it out pretty quickly how to get rid of all the toxins in the oil painting process. So that was basically how the earth paint came about.

And then about a year after my son was born, I had that idea to make children’s paint too out of the natural earth pigments that I used in the oil paints. So that’s how that happened.

DEBRA: Tell us about some of the toxic chemicals that are in paints. I know that you’re a professional artist, so the paints you are using might be different from the paints that people are using at home. But what kind of toxic chemicals should people be concerned about in paints?

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: In typical oil paints, there are lots of different toxins. There are really bad heavy metal toxins like cadmium and cobalt. And then the pigments and oil paints are usually petroleum-based synthetic pigments and then there are usually some toxic preservatives too and also fillers. So there were lots of pretty nasty things in typical oil paints.

And then you also use turpentine and mineral spirits in oil painting to clean your brushes and thin your paint. Those have VOCs and they offgas. Actually, after you paint your paintings, they continue to offgass. Your paintings off-gas into your room.

DEBRA: I remember my grandmother, my mother’s mother was an oil painter and she was always painting. I remember that smell of the paint and the thinner and all that and the pictures continuing to have that smell. I used to spend my summers with her, so I was exposed to a lot of that day in and day out. As a child, she had me painting with those paints right next to her. So that’s I think an exposure that I had that I hadn’t really thought about before.

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: Yeah. Yes. That’s amazing.

DEBRA: Mineral spirits, for people who don’t know exactly what that is, are a mixture of different solvents that are VOCs volatile organic chemicals. And so, they evaporate and volatilize into the air and then you breathe them and they go into your lungs. And immediately, they go into your blood stream.

They have a lot of different names for this, but the thing about it is that you never know exactly what’s in it or how toxic it might be because there’s no standard formula for making mineral spirits. They just take all the solvents that are around, whatever is cheapest and they throw them altogether. One batch of mineral spirit might be very different from another batch of mineral spirits. So you could be exposed to some very toxic things if you’re using mineral spirits for anything.


DEBRA: Are there toxic chemicals in paints that people might be buying at a hobby store, art supply store?

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: Yes. Yeah, a more common paint actually is acrylic paint just for crafting. And that’s generally more eco-friendly since it’s water-based, but acrylic paint is basically just liquid plastics with petroleum-based pigments.

DEBRA: Acrylic is a plastic.

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: Yeah. It’s just 100% petroleum. You can definitely smell it when you’re painting with it and it’s not great for water supply when you wash it down the drain.

Also, just regular children’s paints in any art supplies store have lots of toxins in them too, which is really shocking when I had my child and I did a little research. Even though most of them say “nontoxic” on the label or “certified nontoxic,” it really doesn’t mean much of anything.

There are very, very little regulations on ingredients in kids’ paints and they never list them on the package.

So lots of times, kids’ paints have heavy metals like cadmium. And the most common preservative in kids’ paints is formaldehyde (which is a carcinogen). There are lots of other petrochemicals and petroleum-based pigments. So all of that is in kids’ paints, which is very shocking and it’s something that every parent should know when they’re letting their kids paint.

DEBRA: Could you explain to us about the labels that are on paint that write the “AP nontoxic?” What does that actually mean?

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: It just basically means that they passed the US regulation standard for nontoxic, but there’s really not much required to pass that. You just send in your information about what’s in your paint and no one does any testing on it. So they just trust the people.

DEBRA: I didn’t know that. Because I’m not an artist and I am not using these paints all the time, I haven’t done as much research on art supplies as other things that I’ve researched that I’m using myself all the time. But I thought that the Arts and Crafts Materials Institute – is that what it’s called? I’m trying to remember the name.


DEBRA: They are the ones that run that program and I thought that they have toxicologists on their staff and that they were testing for those things.


DEBRA: But I don’t know that for a fact. You probably know more about it than I do. Anyway, we need to take another break. When we come back, we’re going to learn all about Leah’s natural earth paints. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd and this is Toxic Free Talk Radio.


DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd and my guest today is Leah Fanning Mebane. She’s an artist who developed a line of earth paints, eco-friendly and toxic free.

Before the break, we were talking about the little symbol on packages of art supplies, the AP and CL – I’m actually now looking at the website for this organization. It’s the Art and Creative Materials Institute. I think their little emblems used to say “Nontoxic” on them, but they don’t anymore. But they conform to a certain standard and I guess what I need to do is I need to find out what that standard is and I’ll talk to them and I will cover that on another show.

Let’s go back to what you’re doing, Leah. I wanted to ask you a question about your paints just from an artistic viewpoint. I know that for myself, sometimes I run into things like I’m pretty familiar with natural dyes because I used to know somebody who would dye fabric using only plant-based dyes. And I know that sometimes there are limitations on what you can do with the colors when you are taking the natural route whereas in the synthetic dyes and pigments and everything, in such an array of colors, you could have actually any color you want.

Do you find that you have any limitations as an artist by using the natural pigments? Are you able to mix up pretty much any color you want?

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: That’s a good question. The earth pigments definitely don’t come in every single color. It means that our paints are made with just pure natural earth and minerals. So you can’t get a very bright purple with natural earth I found and you can’t get bright cadmium reds or yellows with natural earth. But what are even good are the really beautiful radiant natural hues, which actually I think are even more beautiful than the really, really bright and more fluorescent colors and they probably – oh, go ahead.

DEBRA: Go ahead. No, go ahead. I don’t want to interrupt you.

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: I was going to say they come in surprisingly huge array of colors. In natural earth, you can get a really great red, orange, yellow, green, a very bright blue from minerals, brown, different browns of course, black or white. And we do have a violet, but it’s more of an earthy violet.

DEBRA: I’ve worked with milk paint. I’ve painted walls with milk paint. When I remodeled my bathroom, we used colored clay plaster. So when you’re working with those paints and plasters, it’s all earth pigments. So the only colors that you can use are the ones that are there, but I found that there was a tremendous variety and I had no disappointment in the colors at all or no feeling that there wasn’t enough choice. It was just really beautiful.

Could you tell me? I don’t have an idea of where these earth pigments come from. Can you tell me how they exist in the earth and how they are processed and things like that?

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: Sure. Yes. They’re just natural clay and they’re colored with different natural iron oxides and minerals in the earth.

DEBRA: Do they occur in nature that way? Are they being mined from someplace?

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: Yes. They’re dug straight from the ground. You can synthetically make iron oxide (basically rust), but these are just natural clays straight from the earth.

When I first started the business, I was actually collecting them myself and going out in the woods and digging them out and grinding and sifting and seething them into a very, very fine powder. So that’s basically the processing part. It’s just the grinding part into a very, very fine powder.

DEBRA: And then how does it turn into paint? You just mix something in it and it goes on. I’m not an artist. I don’t know how this works.

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: Yes. It’s extremely easy to make paint. Anyone can do it. Basically just add pigments to a binder and there are many, many different types of binders. Throughout history, since the cavemen, people have used tree stuff or blood or milk or eggs.

There are lots of different things you can add. That’s basically the glue to mix in with the pigment and so that it will attach to the surface. The Egyptians and Etruscans and Medieval Monks all used natural earth pigments and binders.



DEBRA: There’s a huge history of people using natural earth pigments for paints because I guess the first synthetic color wasn’t developed until the 1800s. So prior to that, any color that you see on a wall in the ancient building – and the artists like Leonardo da Vinci, they had to mix up their own paints. They couldn’t just go down to the art store and buy them in a tube.

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: That’s right. Yeah. It’s interesting.

DEBRA: All those paintings, all those pre-industrial paintings by those great masters were all from completely natural paints.

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: And you can see how long they have lasted.

DEBRA: Very long.


DEBRA: Some of those paints are hundreds and hundreds of years old.

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: Yeah. If you think of the cave paintings, they’re at least 40,000 years old. They’re natural earth pigments on those walls.

DEBRA: That’s incredible.


DEBRA: I’m looking at all your beautiful paintings on your website. Are all these recent natural paintings or some of them are synthetic paints from before?

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: You can tell on the colors if you go to my Abstracts page. There’s one section called Art from the Earth and they’re all paintings with the natural earth paints, natural earth oil paints. And those were all pretty much everything I painted in the last three years since I’ve been only recently using the natural paint. So the ones before that, you can see in my other paintings, they have a little bit more bright and young colors.

DEBRA: They’re a little bit more bright, but I just naturally gravitate towards the softer colors. I was just working on redesigning my website and I’m always picking the soft colors that look like these earth colors rather than the bright colors that look so synthetic.


DEBRA: We will be back after this break. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. We’re here today with my guest, Leah Fanning Mebane and we’re talking about art and paints and toxic chemicals and how to not have toxic chemicals in your paint. We’ll be right back.


DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd and my guest today is Leah Fanning Mebane. I’m so careful about pronouncing your name because I like it when people pronounce my name correctly.


DEBRA: Leah Fanning Mebane. I’ll get it before the end of the show. I’ve just been enjoying looking through both of her websites during the break or during the breaks, I should say. That’s what I do during the break, I sit here and I look at people’s websites.

Let me give you the URLs. One is and her artist’s site is On, you can find her professional artist oil paints, which are simply earth pigments and walnut oil. And there’s also the children’s earth paint. And there’s also a face painting kit and there’s a book that she had painted all the pictures for. It is just a lovely, lovely site. If I felt that I had any aptitude for painting, anything, I would buy all these paintings and paint away because I just think that it looks like a wonderful thing to do. And especially if I had a child, I would get the children’s paints just right away and let them go for it.

When you put things on your skin, the toxic chemicals can be absorbed right through your skin. So if your children are finger painting, you don’t want to buy the toxic finger paint. You would want to buy something like this. Wouldn’t you agree?

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: Absolutely, yes. Yeah. Our children’s paints are just simply natural earth and organic milk proteins. So it’s very pure and completely natural, only two ingredients.

DEBRA: It sounds like even if they accidentally put their fingers on their mouth, it wouldn’t harm them at all.

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: Yes, not basically and it will probably taste very good.

DEBRA: Yeah. Do you find as an artist that you have a different experience working with natural materials than the synthetic materials? Does it feel different to you?

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: The natural paints or the natural pigments, the particles of the pigments are irregular sizes since they’re natural and the synthetic pigments are just very uniformed since they are made synthetically. So when light bounces through the pigment, it bounces off of all these irregular edges and makes the paint a lot more luminous and radiant. So that’s another good side of the earth pigment as opposed to synthetic.

DEBRA: I like that idea. I like that idea. You have an article on your website called Why is Earth Paint Sacred?. Can you tell us about that?

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: Yeah. That was about the aboriginal cultures in Australia and how creating with natural earth was a very sacred process for them. And all of their ochre sites, they call them ochre natural earth sites where they would harvest the clay, were very sacred and private. It was the process of painting their bodies and spiritual rituals are very big for their culture. Most indigenous cultures all over the world use natural earth pigments and they use them in religion and spiritual reasons.

DEBRA: And a lot of tribal cultures did paint their bodies, painted their faces. So this whole modern idea of face painting isn’t such a strange thing.

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: Yeah, absolutely. Ever since the cavemen, we’ve been painting our bodies with pigment and bear fat or oil or whatever [inaudible 00:43:39] that they wanted to use. And it wasn’t until very recent times that our face paints are now super toxic and filled with synthetics and toxins and heavy metals and lots of nasty things. So it’s been very crazy that you would create something to put on your skin that’s filled with toxins.

DEBRA: But there are many, many products that are exactly like that. Many beautiful lotions and shampoos and all those things are full of toxic chemicals. We put them on our bodies. They get absorbed through our skin immediately. You don’t want to put heavy metals on your children’s faces. It’s just not a good thing to do. So this is really great that you have an alternative for that.

So did I miss anything? Is there anything else that you want to talk about your work?

LEAH FANNING MEBANE: I don’t think so. And on our website, we have lots of different articles and resources and nature-based craft and art [inaudible 00:44:49] and natural paint recipes to make different types of paints with our pigments. So there are lots of stuff on the website if you want to check it out and see what’s there.

DEBRA: Yeah. So you sell the pigments separate and you also sell them made into paint, right?


DEBRA: So people can make their own paints. Okay, good. That’s a good thing to know. Okay. I’m so glad that you came to talk to us today about this because it’s such an important subject and I think that art is an important thing for people to experience.

I know that even though I’m not a painter, I’m an artist in my writing and doing my graphic design for my website and as a writer and I’m also a musician. I know that art comes from within and it’s something that needs to be expressed. So it’s so good to have a way that we can be creating colorful art, visual art, painting, painting our bodies, painting paper, painting canvass, painting our walls, whatever and to do it in a way that connects us with the earth instead of doing in a way that’s toxic.

You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. You can go to my website and find out more about Toxic Free Talk Radio by going to And if you go to – particularly you want to go today because I just put up my new artistic expression of my new banner across the top. I haven’t redesigned the whole entire site, but I put up a new banner because I wanted to communicate more what the site is about in a way that it wasn’t before. I’m very excited – you can see my artistic expression – to be able to play with the colors and do all these things.

So when you go to, first of all, you will find the upcoming shows for the current week. And so today, we had Leah and tomorrow, we’re going to be talking about gluten-free skin products and on Thursday, my friend, Annie B. Bond, author of many books is going to be here. We are going to be talking about toxic free cleaning basics. We have both been doing this for a long time, so we both know a lot about how you can clean your house in very simple and natural ways without buying toxic cleaning products.

And on Friday of this week is show number 100. I can’t believe that the time has gone by so fast. I can’t believe that I have already done a hundred shows, but Friday will be show number 100 and I am working on planning something special to celebrate because 100 is a lot, doing this for five days a week. But I have to say that I really love doing these shows, that when it gets to be 11:45 and I know that I’m going to go on at 12:00, that’s the highlight of my day actually. I have a pretty wonderful life, but I just love talking about things that are better for life, things that are better for health and I love talking to people who are doing better things for our lives and for our planet.

So in addition to finding out who’s going to be on this week, I also have all the shows archived. You can listen to all 100 shows, except for show number one. It didn’t get recorded. But you go to the Archives and you can see all the other guests that have been on. You could listen to today’s show again if you want to. And you can listen to them 24 hours a day, seven days a week anywhere in the world on any device that picks up the internet and you can share them with your friends and you can download them, whatever it is that you want. Just listen and get the information because if you apply the information that is in these shows, you’ll have a less toxic life and will have a less toxic world.

Across the top of the page, right under my picture of me holding my book, Toxic Free, you‘ll see there’s a navigation bar where you can go to different parts of my website. If you can click on Shop, that will take you to Debra’s List and you will be able to find hundreds of links to all kinds of toxic free products. Some of the businesses that are listed there have been guests and many more will be guests in the future, but you’ll find almost anything that you need right there.

I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’ll be back tomorrow.

Natural Earth Paint

Eco-friendly paint kits using pure nontoxic earth pigments for adult artists and children. “Millions of years in the making,” these naturally-colored clays are collected from the ground, dried, crushed and sifted into pure pigment. The standard water-soluble children’s kit includes six natural earth colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and brown), biodegradable mixing cups, complete directions, and nature-based activity ideas. Their oil painting kit–for artists of all ages who want to eliminate unnecessary toxics from their painting practice–includes the same six colors plus a 4 oz. bottle of refined walnut oil for mixing. Individual pigments (including white, black, and violet) also available for purchase. “This beautiful paint has greater UV resistance, longevity,  purity, and luminosity than synthetic paints, and it yields a rich, unique luster on the canvas.   Enjoy the satisfaction of painting with actual Earth while avoiding any harm to yourself, your child, or the environment.”

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Crayon Rocks

Charming nontoxic soy wax crayons in beautiful colors, made in the shape of pebbles. Slight indentations allow small fingers to color in large, wide strokes. Designed to strengthen the tripod drip muscles, preparing fingers and hands for pen and pencil use. Specially designed to help children with fine motor disorders to improve their tripod grip. I really like these colors and the fact that that the pebble shape allows you to fill areas with color in fine or bold strokes. Much more versatile artistically than a stick crayon and they feel natural in your hand.

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The Art and Creative Materials Institute

The leading authority on the safety of art and creative materials. They have evaluated and certified over 60,000 art and creative material formulations for children and adults (since 1940!) and have an online database of those they have found to be nontoxic. You may have seen their seal on many products. Their website also explains toxicity issues connected with art supplies.

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