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J Occup Environ Med. 2006 Feb;48(2):149-57.

Evaluation of flavorings-related lung disease risk at six microwave popcorn plants.

Author information

1
Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505, USA. rkanwal@cdc.gov

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

After investigating fixed airways obstruction in butter flavoring-exposed workers at a microwave popcorn plant, we sought to further characterize lung disease risk from airborne butter-flavoring chemicals.

METHODS:

We analyzed data from medical and environmental surveys at six microwave popcorn plants (including the index plant).

RESULTS:

Respiratory symptom and airways obstruction prevalences were higher in oil and flavorings mixers with longer work histories and in packaging-area workers near nonisolated tanks of oil and flavorings. Workers were affected at five plants, one with mixing-area exposure to diacetyl (a butter-flavoring chemical with known respiratory toxicity potential) as low as 0.02 ppm.

CONCLUSIONS:

Microwave popcorn workers at many plants are at risk for flavoring-related lung disease. Peak exposures may be hazardous even when ventilation maintains low average exposures. Respiratory protection and engineering controls are necessary to protect workers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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