Opera Singer Warbling the Blues

Dec. 11, 2002
Alexandra Nehra, an singer with the chorus of the San Francisco Opera, says the fake fog used during performances gave her asthma, limiting her ability to hit certain notes. She is suing her employer, the San Francisco Opera Association and the maker of the fog machine.

Nehra is one of several singers who claim the fake fog is making them ill. Nehra filed her lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court, charging the opera association, Rosco Laboratories Inc. (which manufactured the fog machine) and other manufacturers with negligence and fraud. She claims they knew of the health risks associated with fog machines, but did nothing to prevent it. A spokesman for Rosco says the fog machines are safe.

Nehra's attorney, Michael Papuc, says her respiratory problems have affected her breathing. And, he adds, "When she is sick she can't sing."

Nehra, who says she first became ill in 1999 during the middle of a performance in which the fog machines were churning out fog, is demanding the opera company discontinue use of the machines and is asking for an uspecified amount of damages.

She says she first became ill during a performance in 1999 in which the fog machines were used. She experienced difficulty breathing and suffered from migraine headaches. Papuc says she was forced to take a year off work to recuperate.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors held a hearing recently to review complaints from other performers who say they too have experience health problems related to the fake fog churned out by the machines.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted a study in 1994 that found no evidence that fake fog causes asthma.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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