Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chemical Culprit In 'Popcorn Worker's Lung' Identified

Date:
September 5, 2007
Source:
American Thoracic Society
Summary:
Researchers have identified a chemical agent that may be a, if not the, culprit in bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS), or "popcorn worker's lung," a severe occupational lung disease first noted in 2001 among workers at an American plant that makes microwaveable popcorn. The research examined a population of workers at a chemical plant that produced diacetyl (a key component of butter flavoring). While the researchers were unable to rule out contributions of other chemicals to the development of BOS, the study significantly narrows the field of suspects to diacetyl and the components and byproducts of its manufacturing process.

Researchers in the Netherlands have identified a chemical agent that may be a, if not the, culprit in bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS), or "popcorn worker's lung," a severe occupational lung disease first noted in 2001 among workers at an American plant that makes microwaveable popcorn.

Related Articles


The research, which examined a population of workers at a chemical plant that produced diacetyl (a key component of butter flavoring), was reported in the first issue for September of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

"Our study found a cluster of [previously undiagnosed] BOS cases in a diacetyl production plant," said lead author Frits G. B. G. J. van Rooy, M.D., of the Division of Environmental Epidemiology at the Universiteit Utrecht in the Netherlands. "This supports the conclusion that an agent in the diacetyl production process has caused BOS."

Diacetyl was identified early on as a marker for exposure among popcorn workers. Its specific role, if any, however, in the development of BOS was not known. No cases of BOS had previously been identified outside of North America or in chemical production plants related to flavoring. By investigating the BOS status of former workers of the diacetyl plant, researchers hoped to determine whether there was a link between diacetyl exposure and the development of BOS.

With the help of the human resources department, Dr. van Rooy and colleagues traced 196 former workers who were still living and who had been employed at the diacetyl production plant between 1960 and 2003, when the plant closed. They identified 175 who consented to complete exposure and respiratory health questionnaires and undergo lung function tests and clinical assessments. Of the 102 process workers considered to be at the highest risk for exposure, researchers positively identified three cases of BOS, and later, a fourth, in a worker who had initially declined to participate in the research.

"This is the first study where cases of BOS were found in a chemical plant producing diacetyl," wrote Dr. van Rooy.

While the researchers were unable to rule out contributions of other chemicals to the development of BOS, the study significantly narrows the field of suspects to diacetyl and the components and byproducts of its manufacturing process.

"The spectrum of exposures is much smaller in this production plant compared with the popcorn processing plants where a wide range of chemicals was identified," the researchers wrote. "This population-based survey establishes the presence of BOS, or popcorn worker's lung, in chemical workers manufacturing a flavoring ingredient with exposures to diacetyl, acetoin and acetyldehyde. Any or all of these exposures may contribute to the risk of this emerging occupational disease."

The novel finding of four cases of BOS in workers at the diacetyl plant has important implications for practicing physicians and public health officials.

"None of the four cases had been recognized as bronchiolitis obliterans or as occupationally related," wrote Kathleen Kreiss, M.D., in the accompanying editorial in the same issue of the journal. "To identify flavoring-related bronchiolitis obliterans, physicians need to consider the diagnosis," she noted. Dr. Kreiss, of the Field Studies Branch of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, was one of the first investigators on the scene when "popcorn worker's lung" arose as a public health issue.

Furthermore, she writes, "the collective evidence for diacetyl causing a respiratory hazard supports action to minimize exposure to diacetyl, even if contributions by other flavoring chemicals exist."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Thoracic Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Thoracic Society. "Chemical Culprit In 'Popcorn Worker's Lung' Identified." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070831093923.htm>.
American Thoracic Society. (2007, September 5). Chemical Culprit In 'Popcorn Worker's Lung' Identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070831093923.htm
American Thoracic Society. "Chemical Culprit In 'Popcorn Worker's Lung' Identified." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070831093923.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Misconceptions abound when it comes to your annual flu shot. Medical experts say most people older than 6 months should get the shot. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins