Popcorn Lung


The term “popcorn lung” has been used to describe the devastating effects of bronchiolitis obliterans, which is a potentially lethal lung disease that effects workers and other individuals exposed to diacetyl.   The term was the result of the media attention given to the initial source of diacetyl exposure, which occurred in popcorn factories where the workers were unknowingly exposed to the dangerous chemical by simply breathing it in on the factory floor.

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), diacetyl is a natural byproduct of fermentation and is also synthetically made by chemical manufacturers.  The chemical gives certain foods a buttery flavor and aroma and is widely used in microwave popcorn, snack foods, pet foods and animal feed, candies, coffee roasting, and baked goods.  Accordingly, workers involved in the manufacturing of such consumer goods can be exposed to this ultra-dangerous chemical.

Bronchiolitis obliterans is a relatively rare disease that results in obstruction of the smallest airways of the lungs due to inflammation, and the symptoms can seem minor at first.  Those symptoms include a dry cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, and feeling tired.  However, of the course of weeks and months, the symptoms generally get worse and can lead to a severely damage pulmonary system.  It should be noted that these symptoms may not occur until 2-8 weeks following exposure to the chemicals.

There’s also been some concern that some brands of e-liquids for e-cigarettes, which have become increasingly popular, contain the same dangerous chemical, diacetyl.  With nearly 11 million adults in the U.S. currently use e-cigarettes, there have been various investigations into the “cocktail of chemicals” found in e-cigarettes, with some researchers finding disturbing evidence during analyses of the flavorings and additives in e-cigarettes that point to a serious risk for lung inflammation and damage.  While reputable brands of e-liquids discovered and removed diacetyl from their products quickly, there is the risk that other brands have not.  Accordingly, all users of e-cigarettes should be very cautious about the types of chemicals listed on their e-liquids.  Obviously, any mention od diacetyl should be viewed as a large red warning sign, and that e-liquid should be avoided.


If you or a loved one believe that you have been exposed to diacetyl and are having symptoms of, or been diagnosed with, Bronchiolitis obliterans, then you should immediately consult with an attorney at Sciolla Law Firm.  Consulting with a personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia PA can help you understand your legal opportunities. You could be entitled to significant compensation for the permanent lung damage caused by this dangerous chemical exposure.


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