Here’s a story from someone who worked on a film set 10 years ago. She said she inhaled smoke on set and from a nearby paint warehouse – though she didn’t realize it at the time.
“There was a lot of atmospheric smoke on set – and I had to go out for fresh air a LOT,” she said. “Then I noticed the air quality outside progressively getting worse than inside. The police showed up and talked to the assistant locations manager, and the locations department told us the police said it was a nearby house fire.
“We kept working through the night, and on the way home in my car, News 1130 reported the fire as being a paint warehouse that was burning, and that local residents had been evacuated. A couple of years later I was suffering from rhinitis – good luck making a claim with a production company that doesn’t exist any more.”
Protecting film industry workers from atmospheric smoke
In Focus on Safety: Safe Work Practices for Film and Television Production in BC there is a section on Smoke and Fog (on Page 85).
“Some artificial-smoke liquids (notably glycols) absorb water and may cause drying of the throat, nose, and sinuses. Artificial-smoke liquids may cause irritation to children, the elderly, and people with allergies or asthma or other respiratory disorders,” it reads.
As for the exposure to the nearby factory fire, that just points to bad organization and an attitude that “the show must go on” once an expensive shoot is underway and expensive crews and equipment are assembled. Fortunately organizations like ActSafe are challenging these attitudes and supporting workers’ safety in the film industry.