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February 6, 2003

Equity Expands Smoke-And-Haze Guidelines to Most Contracts, Proclaims "Zero Tolerance" for Violations

Union Acquires Monitoring Device To Measure Compliance

Actors' Equity has successfully negotiated the Mt. Sinai-ENVIRON "smoke-and-haze" guidelines, implemented for Broadway and National Tours under the Production Contract in 2001, into most of its collective bargaining agreements.

According to Equity Executive Director Alan Eisenberg, the guidelines or limits have been implemented in: Production, LORT (League of Resident Theatres), SPT (Small Professional Theatres), Off-Broadway, COST, CORST (Council of Stock/Resident Stock Theatres), LOA (Letter of Agreement) and TYA (Theatre for Young Audience) contracts, and "now protect virtually the entire working membership. It is intended that the exposure limits and usage guidelines will become the universal standard for the use of theatrical smoke on all stages presenting live theatre in the United States and internationally. We will continue to press for these guidelines in our upcoming negotiations," he emphasized.

To ensure compliance, Equity has acquired a sophisticated monitoring device that detects exact levels and concentrations of glycol or mineral-oil based airborne particles. The aerosol monitor is manufactured by Pine Environmental Services for industrial use, and was used at Ground Zero to measure air contamination after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

"Under our contracts, it is the Producers' responsibility to comply with the guidelines or do testing," said Ken Greenwood, Equity's Senior Business Representative. "The acquisition of these highly-sensitive monitors makes it possible for Equity to enforce limits if there is any question, and we will enforce a "zero tolerance" policy with respect to any production that exceeds them," he emphasized.

Limits on smoke-and-haze were immediately imposed on Broadway productions when a joint two-year medical study was released by the Equity-League Health and Pension Fund in 2001. The study was conducted by Mt. Sinai Hospital and Environ International Corporation, an industrial environmental firm, and was jointly commissioned by Actors' Equity Association and the League of American Theatres and Producers, a trade organization representing Broadway producers. Over 400 actors were surveyed and medically tested in 16 Broadway shows, from 1997 to 1999.

According to Chief Outside Representative Kimberly Rimbold, Mt. Sinai/Environ tested smoke/haze machines by five prominent manufacturers (High End Systems, Le Maitre Special Effects, MDG, Reel EFX and Rosco Laboratories), who use glycol or mineral-oil based fluids to generate their effects. Ultimately, the study recommended that an Actor's exposure to glycols not exceed 40 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3), and that exposure to mineral oil not exceed a peak concentration of 25 mg/m3. ENVIRON subsequently developed an "Equipment-Based Guideline" to allow a production to use effects without having to conduct its own stage-specific testing, provided the machines are used in accordance with manufacturer specifications, are well-maintained, and are functioning properly. The guideline ensures that by arranging the blocking and choreography so that an Actor is not within a high level zone during the specified times, the actor will avoid peak exposures. "Our staff has been trained to use the aerosol monitors on site in any case where there is a question about exposure limits," added Rimbold.

The study was commissioned by the Equity-League Pension and Health Trust Funds, and was prepared by: Jacqueline M. Moline, M.D., M.Sc. and Anne L Golden, Ph.D, Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and Joseph H. Highland, Ph.D., and Alan S. Kao, Ph.D. ENVIRON International Corporation. For more information, view the Smoke and Fog documents in the Document Library.

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