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'Read 'Em' and Rock

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"Protect yourself" is the theme of a musical video designed to teach New Jersey students about hazardous substances.

To teach New Jersey students about the hazards posed by dangerous chemical substances, officials have decided to take a few lessons from Madonna and Michael Jackson.

A music video, starring 30 high-school students and a professional band that croons safety messages, will be distributed to all the state's high schools by the end of the year.

The video, which was sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies ciba-geigy Corporation and Merck and Company, was filmed at John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson. Interspersed between scenes showing the students properly handling chemicals in science classes and at home, the band sings such lyrics as:

"Read 'em, read 'em, read the labels"
"Read 'em, read 'em, read the labels"
"Caution, caution, danger, warning!"
"Read 'em, watch out, be careful now."

The video is the brainchild of officials at ciba-geigy. An executive of that firm sits on the board of the state Right-to-Know Advisory Council, which is appointed by the governor. When the council last year decided to launch an initiative to teach high-school students about the hazards associated with common substances, the firm agreed to produce educational materials.

Nancy Ori, a media specialist at the firm who acted as the video's executive producer, says students found an initial video on hazardous materials "dumb." She then revised her strategy and decided to use the student-actors and the rock band.

"I really like the concept of kids talking to kids," Ms. Ori explains.

In addition to getting the consent of the local school board, Ms. Ori says she also had to persuade about 70 students to build and tear down the film sets for the video, which is formally titled "Corrosives.''

Ms. Ori says about five additional videos on hazardous substances will probably be made. The next one, she says, will be about solvents, and future videos will tackle ignitable and reactive toxic substances.

Since 1983, the state has had a right-to-know law for workers. Last year, state lawmakers amended the Worker and Community Right-to-Know Law to require educational institutions to offer curriculum guidelines and materials on chemicals in the workplace and provide instruction on how to handle them.--ef

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