There has been some press in recent months over suspicion that an industrial chemical, diacetyl, may be wreaking a terrible toll on the lungs of chronically exposed workers. The substance is used as flavoring in foods including popcorn and butterscotch. The Bee’s Chris Bowman takes a look in Sunday’s edition at a drive by labor unions and other worker advocates to get the feds to tighten up safety standards. Some people with jobs using the material have suffered 70 to 80 percent losses in lung function. Diacetyl is the suspected perp. The cause is not yet fully demonstrated but the condition, bronchiolitis obliterans, is a rough one more usually associated with toxins like mustard gas. Not only are the usual suspects agitating for a change, but state and federal agencies as well as the manufacturers themselves are cooperating with researchers trying to find the facts, it says here. One company opened its doors to Bowman and, he reports, looks to his layman’s eyes like a model of industrial hygiene. But lawsuits are underway.
See also earlier post: April 25 Baltimore Sun: A Popcorn Flavoring May Be Destroying Workers’ Lungs ;