Are Fog Machines Safe to Breathe? | Fog Machine Health Facts

  • By: Kevin
  • Date: May 26, 2023
  • Time to read: 5 min.
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Fog machines are an essential part of the entertainment, but have you ever wondered if the fog they produce is safe to breathe? Fog machines create artificial fog by vaporizing special liquids.

When the liquid is heated, it turns into a gas and is then forced through a fan which disperses it over.

The liquids commonly used in fog machines in water, mineral oil, glycerin, or propylene glycol. The liquid is propelled into a heat exchanger, where it is vaporized and then cooled and sent through a fan.

The vaporized gas is pushed out of the fog machines in stage productions, nightclubs, or other special events. So are they safe?

Smoke machine health hazards:

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), fog machines are not entirely safe, especially for people with such breathing complications as asthma or COPD. However, the extent of the side effects produced depends on which liquid is used in the fog machine. If the liquid is a water and glycerin mixture, it will not produce harmful effects when inhaled in small quantities because of its moisturizing properties.

The ACAAI points out that, for people with breathing issues, such as asthma, the shorter exposure to fog machines can cause acute asthma attacks accompanied by wheezing, headaches, and breathing difficulties. The ACAAI also warns that people with asthma may experience increased airway resistance if exposed to low-level artificial fog for a long period.

Are Fog Machines Safe for People that Don’t Have Breathing Problems?

ACAAI notes that even with people without breathing issues, the fog induced from glycol-based liquids can cause irritation, coughing, and a runny nose. Other effects may include wheezing, eye irritation, drowsiness, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.

Are the Fog Machine Side Effects Dangerous?

The question still appears are smoke machines bad for you? Prolonged exposure to glycol-based fog can trigger serious health issues, especially for people with existing breathing problems. These issues include severe breathing difficulties and airway resistance.

Even if you do not have asthma or any other breathing problem, prolonged exposure to fog machines can cause bronchitis symptoms.

What about Long-Term Exposure to Fog Machines?

Is fog machine smoke bad for you? Some people, such as those operating the fog machines in events, may be exposed to the machines for long periods. The people may experience voice and upper airway symptoms.

Extended exposure (say, multi-year) can cause both short-term and long-term side effects.

What If I Need To Use Fog For My Special Event?

It is advised that you only use water-based glycerin mixes in the machine and not utilize it more than once or twice a day with breaks between sessions.

It is also important to make sure the area where you are using your fog machine has adequate air circulation, as stagnant areas can lead to inhaling high concentrations of chemicals over long periods, which can cause breathing problems. Also, make sure to use the appropriate filters to reduce chemicals and particulates.

How Can I Be Safe From Exposure to Fog Machine Chemicals?

To ensure safety, it is advisable to use less toxic liquids. Still, you will need to take a few measures to avoid smoke machine health hazards, which include:

  • Use the machine strictly as directed by the manufacturer.
  • Use liquids that the FDA approves
  • Use a face mask and be mindful of how close to the machine you are standing or sitting. Re-evaluate use if fog is being dispersed in an enclosed space, such as a theater or concert hall
  • Do not smoke near the device.
  • Keep children away from the area where artificial fog is being released. Do not let them touch it either. Children may be more sensitive than adults when it comes to exposure because they have smaller lungs and airways that can restrict their breathing even more easily than those who do not suffer respiratory disorders.
  • If possible, don’t stand next to machines for an extended period (such as during performances) since this also increases danger due to prolonged inhalation of propylene glycol.
  • The fog outlets should be located away from people.
  • Be sure to have a first aid kit and an emergency plan should there be any people with severe reactions to the fog.

What Are The Warning Signs of Breathing Too Much Fog?

As noted earlier, there are various health effects of off machines. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop using the fog machine or get out of the room where the machine is being used:

  • wheezing feeling or shortness of breath
  • difficulty breathing while talking or exertion (especially when breathing out)
  • chest tightness
  • difficulty speaking
  • coughing and gasping for air. If you have asthma, these symptoms can be even worse, such as difficulty breathing at all even while laying down in bed. These are serious signs, and medical attention should be sought immediately if they persist.

Some people may also experience a headache, dizziness, and/or nausea.

What If Someone Has An Asthma Attack for a Fog Machine?

If you have a severe allergy or already suffer from respiratory problems such as asthma, then exposure to fog machines should be avoided. As discussed above, exposure to fog machines can cause serious breathing problems.

Suppose someone has an asthma attack when exposed to fog machines. In that case, they should immediately seek medical attention and stop using the machine until their doctor can determine if they are in danger of another episode.

Are There Fog Machines That Won’t Cause Any Health Problems?

Yes. Some fog machines use liquid air instead of glycerin-based solutions. These are the safest because they do not contain glycol, and they don’t reduce oxygen levels in rooms where the machine is used.

However, this is not to say that you should avoid the other fog machines altogether. You just need to take a few precautions, such as wearing a face mask and being mindful of how close the machine is to you.

As discussed earlier, the side effects get serious when you have prolonged exposure to the machine.

Don’t stand next to a machine for an extended period (such as during performances) since this also increases danger due to prolonged inhalation of propylene glycol.


Fog machines are here to stay, especially for dance hall performances. However, safety measures should be taken to ensure that it is safe to breathe the fog and not just enjoy the show.

If all the safety guidelines are followed, then these machines shouldn’t be a concern.

You can also use low-lying fog machines so the smoke stays more on the ground if you will be standing during the event. This will help as you won’t breathe it in as often.

Please be careful and use at your own risk
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