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Chicago PI Attorney | Popcorn Lung Disease in Consumers

Written by Ankin Law Office

In recent years, workers at popcorn plants and flavoring plants have suffered a debilitating condition linked to a chemical used to make butter-flavored popcorn taste like butter. This lung disease has disabled many workers. Now, it appears that workers are not the only ones affected by “popcorn lung” disease (also known as flavorings-related lung disease). A microwave popcorn consumer recently received a substantial verdict in a case against the maker and manufacturer of a popcorn product that led to his injuries.

OSHA maintains a comprehensive Internet page regarding the disease.

In response to the diseases faced by microwave popcorn plant workers and flavoring plant workers, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration developed a comprehensive Internet page. OSHA’s popcorn lung disease page answers many common questions about this condition. For example, OSHA answers:

1. What are the health effects of this lung disease?

Possible symptoms include cough, fatigue, and difficulty breathing with exertion or exercise. Some employees exposed to these flavorings have developed permanent lung damage. This includes a rare disease called bronchiolitis obliterans.

2. How is this lung disease diagnosed?

People with this lung disease may have respiratory symptoms and/or abnormal findings of fixed airways obstruction on a lung function evaluation test. Fixed airways obstruction is diagnosed when the person struggles to blow air out of the lungs and that struggle does not improve with asthma medication.

3. What is the treatment for this disease?

Patients with severe lung disease, including bronchiolitis obliterans, are usually treated with steroid medication. Sadly, many patients have not experienced significant improvement with this treatment. Patients with severe lung disease may require a lung transplant.

4. Can exposure to the chemicals in flavorings cause other adverse health effects?

Yes. People may experience eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation after occupational exposure to certain flavorings. Other risks include chemical eye burns and occupational asthma.

5. How is bronchiolitis obliterans diagnosed?

There are several ways to diagnose this disease. Spirometry is a test that evaluates lung function. Additional tests include chest x-rays, high resolution computerized tomography scans (CT or CAT scans), and tissue biopsies.

6. What is diacetyl?

Diacetyl is a chemical that has been used to flavor food products so that the food products taste like butter. It is frequently used in microwave popcorn. Animal studies of exposure to such butter flavorings, including diacetyl, have shown airway injury in rats after acute inhalation of these flavorings. Research continues on diacetyl and other flavoring chemicals. Researchers hope to evaluate the relationship of exposure to butter flavorings and adverse health effects.

Are you worried about popcorn lung disease? Contact our Chicago, Illinois personal injury attorneys.

If you believe that you have been injured after exposure to the flavorings found in microwave popcorn, you may want to contact the Chicago, Illinois personal injury attorneys at Ankin Law Office LLC. We will consult with you and let you know if we believe you have a valid claim. If so, we may be able to help you pursue that claim. You may contact our attorneys by telephone at (312) 600-0000 or by email.

Categories: Personal Injury