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.

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




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