It is hard to believe something as delicious as popcorn can pose hazards to a person’s health, but sadly, it is true. Workers employed in industrial settings in which flavored microwave popcorn is manufactured can suffer from serious health conditions. These illnesses occur by inhaling the chemicals used to make these types of food products and is widely known as popcorn lung disease or illness.
Scientifically known as bronchioloitis obliterans, popcorn lung disease most commonly occurs when factory workers inhale a chemical called diacetyl. This chemical can cause irreversible and debilitating lung diseases and can even cause death in some cases. The substance is so dangerous that the House of Representatives approved a measure in 2007 to help prevent workers in food processing industries from contracting popcorn lung disease.
The Popcorn Workers Lung Disease Prevention Act attempts to force OSHA (United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration) to develop rules regarding worker exposure to diacetyl. In response, OSHA did not issue such rules, instead creating a set of guidelines to address the issue.
According to the House of Representatives’ committee on education and the workforce, popcorn lung disease has sickened hundreds of food workers in recent years and has even lead to several deaths. Some of the illnesses are so severe that workers have had to undergo lung transplants to survive.
If you or a Pennsylvania resident you know work in the microwave popcorn industry and is experiencing lung illness symptoms, you should contact an attorney to discuss workers’ compensation. An attorney can also advise you about whether or not you may have grounds to file a third party or other lawsuit over your condition.
Source: Democrats — Committee on Education & the Workforce, “Popcorn Workers Lung Disease Prevention Act (Diacetyl),” accessed Oct. 20, 2015