The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has raised concern that food flavoring and production workers are at risk for developing popcorn lung. Workers can develop popcorn lung after long-term exposure to diacetyl and 2,3-pentandione. Both are common food flavorings. Employees at popcorn packaging plants, where diacetyl is heavily used, have succumbed to the irreversible disease after heavy exposure. Additional studies carried out by NIOSH discovered coffee processing workers can also develop popcorn lung.
People with this condition have scarring in small airways in the lungs. Breathing can become difficult for workers who have this condition. Workers may be unable to return to their jobs. According to the Centers for Disease Control, people with popcorn lung have a persistent cough and shortness of breath. These symptoms become progressively worse, even after leaving work.
NIOSH released exposure limits it believes will prevent workers from developing this condition. The recommendations say exposure limits to diacetyl should be 5 parts per billion. In addition, workers should not exceed exposure limits of 9.3 parts per billion for 2,3-pentandione. Exposure limits to these chemicals should not exceed eight hours.
What Options Are Available for People with Occupational Diseases?
Depending on the situation, workers with popcorn lung and other occupational diseases
may be able to secure workers compensation or disability benefits. If negligent companies are responsible for the exposure, workers might be able to secure other types of compensation.
The Ohio workers compensation attorneys at Larrimer & Larrimer, LLC can help workers with occupational diseases discover available options for benefits.