Monona Rossol on Chemicals, Health and Safety

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Chemist Monona Rossol, talks about how the chemicals in everyday products are harming us—scientists have started linking our increased rates of cancer, autism, obesity, and asthma to chemicals—and what the government is not doing about it. In her new book, Pick Your Poison: How Our Mad Dash to Chemical Utopia is Making Lab Rats of Us All, she explains how everyday toxins get into our bodies and accumulate over time and provides us with inspiration to make changes. 


Monona Rossol

Comments [34]

Aa from manhattan

shop using this site:

Mar. 04 2011 12:01 AM
believeinlove from New York, NY

I don't have (knock on wood) these critters, but I keep seeing the news on their ballooning numbers. Seems steam or freeze are the best without being toxic.

One site reads:
"all-organic bed bug killers attack the octopamine nervous system in invertebrates. Since mammals have no octopamine receptors, these non-toxic green insecticide products effectively attack bed bugs without affecting humans or their pets."

Hmmm, wonder what Ms. Rossol thinks about this one. Guess I'll have to check out the book!

Mar. 03 2011 01:31 PM
Eileen Gunning from Wingdale NY

Please don't encourage use of 35% hydrogen peroxide! The reason this % is NOT available and only 3 or 4% is available is because it is VERY dangerous and will cause severe burns! When I was in the chem lab, the one chemical; I was most hesitant to prepare solutions from was 35% H2O2 ( hydrogen peroxide). I would use concentrated sulfuric and hydrochloric acids, and lye with much less hesitation!

Mar. 01 2011 10:07 PM
Susan Hebert from Englishtown, NJ

What a charming guest! I felt she wasn't preachy and certainly knew what she was talking about. It encourages me to think better and smarter for myself and the enviornment. I might just try the baking soda/vinager/olive oil shampoo combination.

Mar. 01 2011 03:20 PM
Richard from manhattan

I only heard the end of the show but noticed that there wasn't an alternative given for bleach. Hydrogen peroxide is much better for the environment. For some reason is only available at drug stores at 3% dilution but can be found at 35% at green stores and online.

Mar. 01 2011 02:13 PM
V. R. Struber from NYC

Ms Rossol misses the point on toxicity. Any toxicologist will tell you that it's the dose that makes it toxic, (too much water and we drown). Let's not become hyper-phobic of all that is "chemical".
About 85% of all Pharmaceuticals contain chlorine, not to be confused with chlorine when it was used as a chemical warfare agent in WW1.

When it comes to plastics, one must be aware of the type being used. Phthalates are NOT present in polyethylene, the containers most used by chinese restaurants, and are fine to refrigerate and freeze in. Len, not to worry.

Mar. 01 2011 02:06 PM

I freeze all liquids in glass canning jars. Cool to room temperature and pour into jar but leave about an inch from the top. Freeze without a lid then screw it on when the liquid is solid. You can also buy glass storage containers with glass tops if your a real purist (most screw on canning lids are lined with plastic coating)

Mar. 01 2011 01:57 PM
emily may

Is storing and freezing foods in glass pyrex a good alternative to plastic?

Mar. 01 2011 01:55 PM

Freeze broth, sauce etc. in pyrex containers with lids to avoid the chemicals in plastics.

Mar. 01 2011 01:54 PM
Howard from Buenos Aires

I live in a country where cyclamates were never banned. Are cyclamates safe to use for sweetening beverages?

Mar. 01 2011 01:53 PM
eleanor from nyc

are grapefruit peels also toxic?

Mar. 01 2011 01:52 PM
Amy from Manhattan

After Ms. Rossol's remarks on citrus peel, I went & read the label on my bottle of Citra-Solv spray. It says it contains "Natural citrus extracts"--no idea if they're from the peel or the inside of the fruit. It also contains "biodegradable cleaning agents." That's even less specific!

Mar. 01 2011 01:51 PM
Elizabeth from Manhattan

I didn't get to hear most of the program so am not sure if the question has already been asked, but what about deodorants containing aluminum and breast cancer? Thank you.

Mar. 01 2011 01:51 PM
h from brooklyn

what about charcoal filters in air purifiers (like the rabbit air purifier) to filter out smoke and fumes.

Mar. 01 2011 01:48 PM
Nick from UWS

Good thing Picasso never got a chance to listen to this woman; he might have been afraid of his turpentine.

She's more than a little nuts. Life, and especially creativity, is risk.

Mar. 01 2011 01:48 PM

HA! I've been vindicated--well in any case I happen to agree with the guest.

Mar. 01 2011 01:47 PM

Is non-toxic children's chalk safe?

Mar. 01 2011 01:47 PM
kdan from NYC

I use plastic juice containers for water after the juice is finished. I wash the containers with hot water every time I refill them. Unhealthy?

Mar. 01 2011 01:46 PM
Michael Forman from Brooklyn

Petroleum products will not dissolve some artist's varnishes such as damar. Is oil of spike lavendar (spike oil) a a non- toxic alternative?

Mar. 01 2011 01:45 PM
Rebecca from New York

What about acetone? It's in nail polish remover, and we also use it straight to preserve dragonfly specimens fpr scientific study.

Mar. 01 2011 01:44 PM

Any studies that this is changing humanity on an evolutionary scale, presuming some of this stuff is effecting our DNA? Seems the chemists seem to believe whatever doesn't kill ya makes you stronger.

Mar. 01 2011 01:43 PM
Megan from New York City

I am preparing to go to med school. I am pregnant, and am wondering if I should be careful in my organic chemistry class this summer semester? What precautions should I take? What do premed students go through in terms of exposure to chemicals? In my lecture, we sure are talking about benzene a lot and am worried I am going to have to work with it while carrying a baby and breastfeeding.

Mar. 01 2011 01:43 PM
ruth shively from portland or

As an artist, oil painter, how can I find out the more safe paint thinning products you mentioned. thank you.

Mar. 01 2011 01:42 PM
Amy from Manhattan

So the chemicals that replaced phosphates in detergents aren't environmentally safe either. Then are there any detergent ingredients that *are* known to be safe?

Mar. 01 2011 01:41 PM
Yonette from Bklyn

All this info is so depressing. With the list of things that are so hazardous to our health, what is one thing that we can do or use on a daily basis to ensure that we minimize our exposure to toxins... besides living in a bubble (that's not made of plastic)

Mar. 01 2011 01:41 PM
Marion Appel

Can we encourage restaurants & bars to stop using candles?

Mar. 01 2011 01:41 PM
Kurt from UWS

How should we freeze our delicious chicken stock safely so that we may avoid the hazardous plastic containers?

Mar. 01 2011 01:39 PM
CC from Manhattan

How bad is shampoo? Are the sulfates toxic? I've been reading about using baking soda and vinegar but it's very drying.

Mar. 01 2011 01:37 PM
CC from Manhattan

How bad is shampoo? Are the sulfates toxic? I've been reading about using baking soda and vinegar but it's very drying.

Mar. 01 2011 01:36 PM
kp from nj

Can the guest comment on the differences in approval standard for chemicals between US and Europe? In Europe, the 'precautionary principle' requires that the suppliers of chemicals prove that their additives are safe or they will be assumed harmful. In the US, they only have to prove they are not harmful and we assume they are safe. A very big difference.

Mar. 01 2011 01:36 PM
Laura from Princeton

Are there inexpensive masks Monona Rossol would suggest wearing that can effectively filter out toxic substances when artists work with materials that have dangerous chemicals in them?

Mar. 01 2011 01:26 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I first read about health problems from asbestos in the context of shipbuilding. I'd never heard of it in chidren's toys & art materials!

What I read did say that as long as the asbestos was "encased in a matrix" it wasn't dangerous. Does that mean that clay containing it is safe?

Mar. 01 2011 01:18 PM
Joan from Rockaway NY

There is a wonderful website that has in depth information on building materials, paints, carpeting, etc.

Mar. 01 2011 01:18 PM
Sarah from LES

Given the daily opportunity for chemical contamination is there a way or method to flush our bodies of these toxins? Even if only a little bit? Maybe saline flush?

Mar. 01 2011 01:17 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.