Effects of theatrical smokes and fogs on respiratory health in the entertainment industry

Authors

  • Sunil Varughese MSc,

    1. School of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada
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  • Kay Teschke PhD,

    1. School of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada
    2. Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada
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  • Michael Brauer ScD,

    1. School of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada
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  • Yat Chow MSc,

    1. School of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada
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  • Chris van Netten PhD,

    1. School of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada
    2. Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada
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  • Susan M. Kennedy PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada
    2. Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada
    • UBC School of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, Room 360A, 2206 East Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3, Canada.
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Abstract

Background

Theatrical fogs (glycol or mineral oil aerosols) are widely used in the entertainment industry to create special effects and make lighting visible.

Methods

We studied 101 employees at 19 sites using fogs and measured personal fog exposures, across work shift lung function, and acute and chronic symptoms. Results were also compared to an external control population, studied previously.

Results

Chronic work-related wheezing and chest tightness were significantly associated with increased cumulative exposure to fogs (mineral oil and glycols) over the previous 2 years. Acute cough and dry throat were associated with acute exposure to glycol-based fogs; increased acute upper airway symptoms were associated with increased fog aerosol overall. Lung function was significantly lower among those working closest to the fog source.

Conclusions

Mineral oil- and glycol-based fogs are associated with acute and chronic adverse effects on respiratory health among employees. Reducing exposure, through controls, substitution, and elimination where possible, is likely to reduce these effects. Am. J. Ind. Med. 47:411–418, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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