We all know how smoking and vaping can affect our health because there are tons of research available on the subject. One doesn’t necessarily have to be a smoker, to suffer the consequences by sharing the same room with smokers. Luckily, the world has changed, and smoking inside is now history in most countries of the world.
However, there are certain events and venues where we can’t help to be surrounded by smoke. Smoke, fog, mist, and other stage effects machines create some exciting special effects that add a romantic feeling to the weddings, and fun to the clubs and parties. But, have you ever wondered what this kind of smoke does to your lungs? Is it a health risk or is it safe?
Half of the people don’t even know what are the elements these special effects are made of, so they do not wonder if this can represent a potential health risk. To decide whether or not it is safe to breathe smoke from the smoke machine, one needs to understand what it consists of. So, before we try to answer the question of safety, let’s take a look at a couple of different types and the chemical compounds they produce.
How do Smoke Machines Work?
Most smoke machines use water with a mixture of glycol to produce special effects.
Many commercial smoke machines use a “magnetic juice” consisting of glycol, glycerin, and/or mineral oil, with varying amounts of distilled water. Glycols are heated and forced into the atmosphere under pressure to create a mist or a fog. There are different mixtures that can be used to create the fog effect. They can include compounds such as liquid air, liquid nitrogen.
After reading this, and especially if you have no idea what these compounds are, you must be wondering if they can cause breathing issues? Especially if you have asthma. Well, if you are in the open or a venue with a decent ventilation system, you most likely won’t experience any breathing difficulties. A good ventilation system will ensure enough oxygen to help you cope with it.
However, when a person is in a less ventilated, closed venue, exposed to the smoke, especially if it contains glycol, it might be an issue. Airways could start reacting, and what is mostly experienced is coughing, sneezing, even shortness of breath, or chest tightness.
Moreover, people who do not have breathing issues such as bronchitis and asthma can experience these effects. In addition, eye irritation can occur, or headache and dizziness. Therefore, with or without asthma and bronchitis, make sure you stay out of places with poor ventilation when these smoke machines are inside.
From a health safety perspective, it is better to be exposed to the machines using liquid air. Why? Well, in the previous point we’ve mentioned how ventilations ensure enough oxygen, therefore, making it easy for people with breathing issues to cope. Liquid air-based smoke is better for the same reason, it is rich in oxygen. Machines like this do not contain glycol, as well.
One fact that should make you worry about the risk less is that most of the smoke and fog produced is on a certain level. You must have noticed on the wedding receptions, how the smoke is usually covering the feet, going mostly until the thighs, not higher. After all, who would benefit from a smoke effect that covers the heads of all the guests… This means that you’ll be safe because your head is above the smoke. In any other situation, it could be risky.
Smaller children, however, can be in danger while exposed to any kind of smoke. Because they are not tall enough to be above its level. Consider this, when planning to bring your kids to a wedding reception.
If it can be dangerous, can it trigger a smoke detector reaction?
It’s a question many ask when planning to rent one of these machines for a party or a reception. No need to worry though, because such a machine simply cannot activate a smoke detector, because it does not produce real smoke. Real smoke contains different chemical compounds and is a result of something solid – burning. Real smoke is definitely bad for breathing, people would suffocate if they are exposed to it.
However, since there are different types of machines, creating different types of smoke and fog, and you are not completely sure about the sensitivity of your fire alarm, it might be a good idea to switch the alarm off (although it is not legal).
Are some machines more health-friendly than others?
Definitely. Considering all that was written previously, that different machines can use different compounds for creating the same effect, it is logical some may be more health-friendly than others. For example, those that run on liquid nitrogen are considered safer. The primary reason is that there is only one substance used. It’s not a mixture of anything. It evaporates, also cools the air in the room, which further causes condensation. And that’s all it takes to produce the effect. This substance is also considered to be non-toxic.
In the end, it is important to mention that a couple of years ago there was a change in regulations regarding the usage of the chemicals in the smoke machines. As we’ve mentioned in the beginning some can cause breathing difficulties, which was the reason behind this change in regulations. As of 6 years ago, manufacturers are no longer allowed to use dangerous substances like diethylene glycol and have found a much safer alternative. On the other hand, you can always find some machines produced elsewhere that use suspicious substances. In this case, you can know if there will be dangerous breathing or not by checking how much residue they leave behind.
After reading all that was written previously, we have no doubt you will be able to decide for yourself if the fog on the dancefloor is dangerous or not.