Popcorn Lung in Factory Workers
Bronchiolitis Obliterans and the Chemical Diacetyl
Popcorn lung, or bronchiolitis obliterans, is fortunately a rare disease. Like asbestos-caused mesothelioma, popcorn lung has no natural causes. The single greatest cause of the incurable lung disease is diacetyl exposure. Diacetyl is the chemical that gives microwave popcorn its buttery smell.
As early as 2001, studies showed that diacetyl exposure from artificial butter flavoring caused popcorn lung in popcorn factory workers. In 2005, the EPA sent its study of popcorn lung to major U.S. microwave popcorn producers recommending they remove diacetyl from their artificial flavoring, though the full contents of this document has not been made public.
Popcorn Lung Symptoms
Popcorn lung is marked by a shortness of breath and asthma-like symptoms. Sufferers of popcorn lung often require lung transplants because there is no recovering from the scars diacetyl causes in workers’ lungs. Bronchiolitis obliterans lawsuits against diacetyl manufacturers have been filed by microwave-popcorn workers and their attorneys in Missouri, Iowa, Ohio, New Jersey, Illinois, California, and Maryland.
If you worked in an artificial popcorn flavoring plant or were otherwise exposed to diacetyl and now either have difficulty breathing or have been diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans, the workers’ rights attorneys at the Consumer Justice Group would like to help. Contact us today to speak with workplace injury lawyer.
Microwave Popcorn Diacetyl and Public Health
Microwave popcorn contains small amounts of the diacetyl. Exposure to these small amounts of the buttery smelling chemical is not enough to cause popcorn lung. Or so it was thought by government agencies and popcorn manufacturers already facing lawsuits from injured popcorn factory workers with bronchiolitis obliterans.
Then, in August 2007, a medical report about a popcorn consumer in Colorado made its way into the media. A Colorado furniture salesperson who never worked in a popcorn factory came down with popcorn lung. This Colorado man would breathe in the buttery fragrance of the two or three bags of microwave popcorn he ate each day. After ten years, he was diagnosed with popcorn lung.
While this is an unusual case of diacetyl injury from microwave popcorn, it was widely reported in the media and has caused many microwave popcorn manufacturers to finally prevent possible lung injury in the public and popcorn factory workers by removing the artificial popcorn flavoring diacetyl.
Popcorn Manufacturers’ Voluntary Withdraw of Flavoring Diacetyl
From this media hysteria over diacetyl fumes in bags of microwave popcorn, The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association recommended that microwave popcorn producers reduce the diacetyl in their microwave popcorn. Indiana-based Weaver Popcorn was the first to announce their withdrawal of diacetyl from the artificial butter flavoring in their popcorn and has been followed by three other companies producing microwave popcorn.
Check out our sister website Lawyers for Change for updates and breaking news on popcorn lung.
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Microwave popcorn manufacturing or other workplace chemical injuries? Consumer Justice Group workplace lawyers would like to help. Attorneys in our network specialize in complex litigations against abusive workplace practices and negligent employers. Contact us today to speak with an injury attorney in your area.
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