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Secretary of Labor called on to protect Microwave Popcorn Factory Workers

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Finally, warnings have been issued regarding the link between microwave popcorn and lung disease.

In an effort to protect microwave popcorn factory workers from the "grave danger" of lung disease associated with diacetyl, an artificial butter flavoring used in popcorn, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters asked the Secretary of Labor on July 26 to issue an "emergency temporary standard to take effect immediately."

The petition is accompanied by a letter from forty-two of the nation's leading occupational safety scientists, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The chemical diacetyl is suspected in the lung disease bronchiolitis obliterans. The potentially fatal disease is as bad as it sounds: It's an irreversible condition that obliterates or destroys the bronchioles—tiny tubes in the airways—causing severe breathing problems.

According to the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) "dozens of workers employed at popcorn plants have developed occupational lung disease, and at least one has died. Several of these workers are on lung transplant lists."

OSHA is alarmed by the swiftness and severity of the disease. It appears that inhaling diacetyl can adversely affect breathing in a matter of months.

The UFCW represents 1.4 million workers in North America with more than 8,000 employed in the flavorings production industry and tens of thousands in the production of popcorn, pastries, frozen foods, candies and even dog food that use chemicals similar to diacetyl.

It's unclear whether consumers of products such as microwave popcorn have anything to fear.

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Popcorn Lung Disease Resources

If you or someone you know has been affected and possibly exposed to diacetyl from working in a microwave popcorn factory, please send your [Popcorn Lung] complaint to a lawyer for a free case evaluation.

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