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“Popcorn Lung” Disease | Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

Written by Ankin Law Office

A lung disease has generated headlines recently. “Popcorn lung” disease, an ailment that has long impacted microwave popcorn plant workers and flavoring plant workers, may be hurting consumers, too. Victims suffer from a respiratory disease caused by inhaling or ingesting a chemical found in the substance used to flavor microwave popcorn.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on this topic. The CDC’s topic page discusses the findings and recommendations by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to reduce the risk of this disease.

Overview of Popcorn Lung Disease

Many microwave popcorn plant and flavoring plant workers have developed an obstructive lung disease called constrictive bronchiolitis obliterans. For these victims, the smallest airways in their lungs (the bronchioles) become scarred and constricted. This constriction blocks the movement of air.

Symptoms of Popcorn Lung Disease

The main respiratory symptoms experienced by people affected by bronchiolitis obliterans include coughing, wheezing, and worsening shortness of breath. The symptoms range in severity from only a mild cough to a severe cough and shortness of breath on exertion. These symptoms usually appear gradually and progressively. Sometimes, however, severe symptoms can occur suddenly. Some people experience fever, night sweats, and weight loss.

Results from Medical Tests

Medical tests performed on a person exposed to the harmful chemical in popcorn flavoring may reveal several of the following:

  • Fixed airways obstruction. A patient has trouble blowing air out fast. The condition does not improve with asthma medications.
  • Hyperinflation. Too much air is trapped in the lungs because of obstructed airways.
  • Restriction. The patient has a decreased ability to fully expand the lungs.
  • Haziness and thickened airway walls.
  • Eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation.
  • Chemical eye burns.
  • Constrictive bronchiolitis obliterans. Severe narrowing or complete obstruction of the small airways can occur.
  • Development or worsening of asthma.

Abnormalities on lung function tests and shortness of breath on exertion may persist for a long time after exposure to the product ceases.

Medical Treatment for Popcorn Lung Disease

A plant worker or a consumer who experiences a persistent cough, persistent shortness of breath on exertion, frequent or persistent symptoms of eye, nose, throat, or skin irritation, or abnormal lung function should consult with a physician immediately. Unfortunately, many victims have shown little or no response to medical treatment. Some victims must even be placed on lung transplant waiting lists.

Consumers Have Claims, Too.

To date, most popcorn lung cases have been pursued by workers whose jobs exposed them to toxic substances. But a jury recently awarded a consumer a substantial recovery in a popcorn lung matter. Future lawsuits alleging similar facts and injuries may be likely.

Are You Worried About Popcorn Lung Disease? Contact Our Illinois Personal Injury Attorneys to Discuss Your Concerns.

If you are concerned that you have been injured after eating microwave popcorn, you may want to contact the Illinois personal injury attorneys at Ankin Law Office LLC. We will visit with you about your situation in detail. You may contact our attorneys by telephone at (312) 600-0000 or by email.

Categories: Personal Injury