Popcorn Lung Disease Caused By Harmful Chemicals
Diacetyl, a chemical commonly found in microwave popcorn and e-cigarettes, has been linked to a rare and potentially life-threatening lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans. Bronchiolitis obliterans can be contracted from directly inhaling the fumes from diacetyl when it is heated. When inhaled, this chemical can cause severe inflammation and scarring of the smallest airways of the lungs. The condition is irreversible and is often referred to as “popcorn lung”. Often, bronchiolitis obliterans is misdiagnosed as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, or a complication from smoking.
Persistent symptoms associated with popcorn lung include:
- Severe shortness of breath
- Dry Cough
Symptoms generally do not improve when the worker is not at work.
Microwave Popcorn Dangers
The term Popcorn lung came about in the early 2000’s when several popcorn factory workers became ill with respiratory conditions that later were linked to the inhalation of diacetyl, a chemical used in the flavoring of microwave popcorn. When heated, this chemical emits dangerous fumes. In 2004, the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health issued an alert exposing an association between exposure to vapors from flavorings used during microwave popcorn production and irreversible respiratory issues.
Millions of dollars of compensation have been awarded to popcorn factory workers who were diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans. Microwave popcorn lung lawsuits have contended that manufacturers failed to adequately warn workers about the potential risk of inhaling the vapors from the butter flavoring. Along with this allegation is the failure for proper ventilation and/or respiratory protections to be provided or available for workers. These lawsuits are also claiming that the manufacturers failed to adequately test the product prior to it’s usage regarding the effect on the respiratory systems.
Many contend that manufacturers failed to properly warn consumers and workers about the risk of exposure to chemicals including diacetyl, creating great concern in the legal community, and in turn, lawsuits. Importantly, the risk of exposure may extend beyond the factory to consumers who routinely inhale and ingest the harmful diacetyl chemical in the comfort of their homes. A Colorado man recently was awarded $7 million in damages after suffering respiratory problems caused by daily consuming two bags of popcorn over the course of several years.
Popcorn Lung Linked To E-Cigarettes
With the rise of popularity of e-cigarettes comes the concern of the harmful chemicals ingested while vaping. The safety of e-cigarettes is relatively unknown because the FDA is not regulating them. However, the same chemical used in the production of microwave popcorn, diacetyl, is used in the flavorings of several e-cigarettes.
Given that e-cigarettes are often promoted as a safe alternative to nicotine, many are demanding more research before e-cigarettes can be deemed safe. After many years of the e-cigarettes operating without any restrictions or regulations from the government, the FDA in May 2016 developed landmark regulations for this industry. Children will no longer be able to legally purchase e-cigs, the ingredients in e-cigs will be regulated and all packages will carry warnings. The great concern is that long-term use of e-cigarettes may pose the same dangers of lung damage that has been so prevalent with exposure to the production, and consumption, of microwave popcorn.
Do You Have A Popcorn Lung Case?
If you or someone you know is suffering with the symptoms related to popcorn lung and you fear it may be as a result of exposure to the harmful chemical, diacetyl, we are here to help. Please call our team of class action lawyers at the Strom Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation today!