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The U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) warns popcorn manufacturers that inhaling the fumes of flavoring chemicals like diacetyl in the workplace can cause severe lung disease for food workers in production and packaging areas.

Food production plant workers around the country may have faced occupational toxins in processing and packaging areas. Plant workers may have been exposed to high dosages of diacetyl for long durations.

Depending on the specific artificial flavoring and the food production process, workers may have been exposed to hazardous flavorings like diacetyl in the form of vapors or fumes.

Studies have shown that exposure to diacetyl is linked to bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome in food production plant workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the CDC have warned companies and workers about diacetyl because of the danger of developing serious respiratory diseases.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Ohio personal injury lawyer representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of consumer product liability and workplace injury claims

What is Popcorn Lung?

Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) is a form of chronic lung dysfunction in which the lungs deteriorate, and cause a myriad of life-threatening symptoms. The deterioration in pulmonary function is generally irreversible and progresses despite therapy. No effective treatment has yet been established.

First recognized in the 1980s, BOS remains a pervasive illness with devastating consequences. Some causes have been identified. The most common risk factors for bronchiolitis obliterans are working conditions that expose employees to dangerous chemicals.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Cincinnati workplace injury Attorney and Bronchiolitis Obliterans lawyer representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of civil litigation claims.  

Diacetyl Exposure Lawsuits

Exposure to diacetyl production appears to be responsible for causing bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome in chemical process workers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the flavoring industry have warned workers about the specific chemical diacetyl because of the association between inhaling this chemical and debilitating respiratory diseases.

BOS has been termed “Popcorn Lung” because it first appeared in workers who inhaled artificial butter flavor in microwave popcorn manufacturing facilities.

The CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and others have reported that exposure to diacetyl causes not only bronchiolitis obliterans, but other chronic lung diseases, such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis, granulomatosus disease, emphysema, asthma and interstitial lung disease. The chemical has been removed from most consumables in the United States.

Food Production Diacetyl

In May 2000, an occupational medicine physician reported eight cases of fixed obstructive lung disease in former workers of a microwave popcorn factory. All eight had a respiratory illness resembling bronchiolitis obliterans, and had worked at the same popcorn factory in durations ranging from 8 months to 9 years.

NIOSH evaluated the factory for respiratory hazards to workers, and concluded that workers exposed to flavorings at microwave popcorn factories are at risk for developing lung diseases.

Workers at coffee processing facilities also may face the same occupational hazard. NIOSH investigators published a report in 2013 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine about a health hazard evaluation at a coffee processing facility. Five former workers at a coffee processing facility that roasted, ground, and flavored coffee developed popcorn lung.

Vaping Lung Disease

In July, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a directive to reduce tobacco-related disease with a new plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation that will serve to better protect children. The approach places nicotine at the center of the agency’s tobacco regulation efforts.

The FDA notes that e-cig and vaping devices can be helpful to the effort. However, a 2015 study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found diacetyl, a flavoring compound considered a respiratory hazard, was present in more than 75 percent of flavored electronic cigarettes and vaping liquids tested by researchers.

Several years ago, workers in a microwave popcorn factory were sickened by breathing in diacetyl, the popular flavoring chemical in popcorn and snack products. Studies have linked diacetyl to deaths and hundreds of cases of bronchiolitis obliterans, a serious and irreversible lung disease.

Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS) is a form of chronic lung dysfunction in which the lungs deteriorate, and cause a myriad of severe symptoms. The deterioration in pulmonary function generally progresses despite therapy. No effective treatment has yet been established.

Major popcorn manufacturers have since removed diacetyl from certain products, but many people are still being exposed to diacetyl through e-cig vapor.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Cincinnati product liability attorney and Ohio personal injury lawyer representing plaintiffs nationwide in vaping injury lawsuits and severe respiratory illness cases.

Consumer Popcorn Lung

According to the EPA, popping microwave butter-flavor popcorn releases diacetyl into the air along with other potentially toxic chemicals. The study found that 80 percent of the chemical fumes escaped from a bag of microwave popcorn within the first seconds of opening.

Diacetyl has sickened hundreds of microwave popcorn plant workers, who have in turn developed Popcorn Lung (popcorn lung) which has killed at least three popcorn factory workers. Initial symptoms include coughing and shortness of breath.

In addition, at least one consumer fell ill from consuming popcorn and later filed a successful lawsuit against the manufacturers of the product. The Colorado man reportedly ate two bags of popcorn a day for more than 10 years and was diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome.

Popcorn Lung Lawsuits

In 2009, a federal jury in Iowa awarded $7.5 million to a former worker in a microwavable popcorn facility. The worker’s attorneys said the flavoring ingredients caused his health problems.

A number of consumers have sued other microwave popcorn manufacturers, claiming chemicals in the popcorn flavoring lead to lung disease.
A Denver man, for example, won a $7.2 million verdict against Gilster-Mary Lee Corp., The Kroger Co. and Dillon Companies Inc., after developing BOS after claiming he consumed microwavable popcorn for years.

The man and his lawyers sued the popcorn maker and supermarkets, claiming the companies never warned consumers that diacetyl was dangerous.

Any former worker, or consumer of products that contains these dangerous chemicals may have a claim against a company for injury and damage as a result of exposure. Contact an experienced Ohio popcorn lung lawyer for legal assistance.

American Popcorn Lawsuits

Former and current employees of American Pop Corn Company production plants may be at risk of developing a serious lung disease due to artificial flavorings that were commonly used by most popcorn companies, including American Pop Corn.

Bronchiolitis obliterans is known to affect employees involved in production and packaging processes in pop corn facilities like American Pop Corn in Sioux City, Iowa. Medical Experts have identified diacetyl as a dangerous toxin, causing illnesses in many popcorn production workers.

However, health agencies and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have not determined a safe amount or duration of exposure. As a result, many food and beverage companies have stopped using diacetyl as a flavoring agent.

The health effects may have already taken hold in many former workers at American Pop Corn Company, and the company may be held responsible for diacetyl-related illnesses and diseases.

American Pop Corn employees who faced diacetyl flavoring exposure may experience eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation. There is some medical evidence that occupational asthma may be associated with workplace exposure to certain flavorings like diacetyl.

Studies have shown an association with occupational exposure to certain flavorings and the development of bronchiolitis obliterans, a lung disease characterized by fixed airways obstruction.

Almost all of the known cases of “popcorn lung” have occurred in workers exposed to diacetyl flavorings in production and packaging plants. But consumers may also be exposed to food additive toxins. The following American Pop Corn Brands had diacetyl flavoring in the past:

  • Jolly Time
  • Blast O’ Butter
  • Butterlicious
  • Better Butter
  • White and Buttery
  • Crispy ‘n White
  • KettleMania
  • The Big Cheez
  • Mallow Magic
  • Sassy Salsa

Weaver Popcorn Lawsuits

Weaver Popcorn Co. of Indianapolis, Indiana recently stopped using diacetyl in its artificial butter flavoring because of pending lawsuits from consumers and food production workers around the country who claim the chemical is toxic.

Exposure can cause serious health problems like popcorn lung and other respiratory diseases including hypersensitivity pneumonitis, granulomatosus disease, emphysema, asthma and interstitial lung disease.

Workers at Weaver Popcorn Co. around the production and packaging areas where diacetyl was present may have been exposed to toxic fumes on a daily basis and developed a lung disease.

Affected workers may notice a gradual reduction of cough years after they are free from flavoring vapors, but abnormalities in lung function can persist. Medical attention is crucial, and following treatment legal action may be sought to investigate the cause of the illness.

Conagra Popcorn Lung

Any ConAgra employee working with artificial flavorings at the workplace may risk heavy exposure to toxins. Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome may initially cause a mild dry cough and develop into a continual shortness of breath as soon as two weeks after the first heavy exposure.

Microwave popcorn plant and flavored coffee plant workers have developed obstructive lung diseases such as a type of bronchiolitis called constrictive bronchiolitis obliterans. In bronchiolitis obliterans, the airways in the lungs become scarred and constricted, and block the movement of air.

The primary respiratory symptoms experienced by workers affected by obliterative bronchiolitis include dry coughing, wheezing, and a continual shortness of breath on exertion.

The severity of symptoms can range from mild to severe, and typically do not improve when a worker goes home at the end of the workday. These symptoms are gradual and progressive, though severe symptoms can occur suddenly. Some workers may experience a fever, sweating, and sudden weight loss.

Workers should seek medical evaluation if they have persistent cough, shortness of breath on exertion, frequent symptoms of eye, nose, throat, or skin irritation, or general decline in lung function. Affected workers may notice a gradual reduction of cough years after they are free from flavoring vapors, but abnormalities in lung function tests usually persist.

Several workers with related lung disease have been placed on lung transplant waiting lists. Medical attention is crucial, and following treatment legal action may be sought to investigate the cause of the illness.

General Mills and Diamond Food Lung Injury

Employees of General Mills or Diamond Food who have worked with artificial flavorings at the workplace may have faced heavy exposure to known toxins.

General Mills and Diamond Food workers that handled and packed Pop Secret popcorn products may have risked permanent lung injuries and illnesses, including popcorn lung syndrome, known as “popcorn lung disease” in the food production industry.

Artificial flavorings such as diacetyl were regularly used by diamond foods and general mills in popcorn mixtures until relatively recently. Pop Secret was previously manufactured by General Mills and then was purchased by the Diamond Foods Company in 2008—now under the ownership of Snyder’s-Lance.

Bronchiolitis obliterans in particular may initially cause a persistent cough and develop into a progressive shortness of breath soon after the first exposure on the job.

The lung disease is called “Popcorn Lung” by researchers because it was discovered in clusters of workers who inhaled artificial flavorings like diacetyl in popcorn facilities like General Mills and Diamond Food.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has warned that long-term exposure to diacetyl may cause popcorn lung disease and other chronic lung diseases like hypersensitivity pneumonitis, granulomatosus disease, emphysema, and asthma.

Symptoms of Popcorn Lung Disease

Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (popcorn lung disease) usually presents with a serious cough and regular shortness of breath as soon as two weeks after diacetyl exposure. Specific symptoms of diacetyl-related lung diseases may include the following:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Pale or bluish appearance to the skin
  • Crackling or rattling sounds in the lungs
  • Fatigue
  • Chest that appears sunken while breathing
  • Quickened breathing at rest
  • Whooping cough
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A Voice for Those who have suffered 

Why are these cases important?

Serious injuries and accidents often result through no fault of the injured party, yet the injured victim suffers from life altering physical, mental and financial losses. Such economic and human losses can have devastating financial consequences on individuals and families if not properly compensated. Tort law allows those individuals to seek just legal recourse through personal injury lawsuits.

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Questions about Industrial Accident Cases

What are the types of Industrial Accident Cases?

Equipment rollovers and falls are the main causes of injury and death in industry. For workers on foot, being struck by heavy equipment or trucks are major causes of death.

Vehicle and forklift overturns are a leading cause of injuries and fatalities. Each year in the United States, nearly 100 workers are killed and another 20,000 are seriously injured in forklift-related incidents.

Falls on the job are no less fatal. In the United States each year, over 500 workers die as a result of falls from elevations.

Other preventable events include the following:

What is an Arc Flash Injury?

Arc flash accidents are an electrical occurrence when an electrical current deviates from its designated path and travels to another conductor. If a worker is hit by an arc flash or is even near one, they are likely to suffer severe electrical injury.

Anything from dropping a tool to faulty wiring can cause an arc flash accident. Poorly maintained materials or electrical systems can lead to arc flash incidents. An electric shock, burns, fires and damage is likely following an arc flash. Employers are urged to protect workers from arc flash injury, with the following prevention methods:

  • De-energize electrical circuits while working
  • Use proper insulation and guarding
  • Provide workers with work barricades
  • Install adequate ground fault circuit interrupters
  • Provide workers with personal safety equipment
  • Place warning labels regarding arc flash hazards
Can product liability be included in industrial accident litigation?

Each year, industrial accidents generate millions in settlements and verdicts for victims. Product liability issues cannot be discounted. In many past incidents, industrial equipment has been found to be inherently flawed. If machinery is found to have a faulty design or missing safety components, victims and their attorneys can file suit against large industrial manufacturers.

The legal options will depend on what caused the industrial accident and injury. Industrial accident injuries are usually permanent and should be addressed by a lawyer qualified in complex personal injury matters. Mr. Lyon has successfully litigated numerous industrial injury cases and obtained settlements for workers, over and beyond their workers comp.

Why should I hire The Lyon Firm?

Our Firm will help you find the answers.  The Firm has the experience, resources and dedication to take on difficult and emotional cases and help our clients obtain the justice for the wrong they have suffered. 

Experience:  Joe Lyon is an experienced Cincinnati Industrial Accident Lawyer. The Lyon Firm has 17 years of experience and success representing individuals and plaintiffs in all fifty states, and in a variety of complex civil litigation matters. Industrial accident lawsuits can be complex and require industry experts to determine the root cause of an accident or injury.  Mr. Lyon has worked with experts nationwide to assist individuals understand why an injury occurred and what can be done to improve their lives in the future. Some cases may go to a jury trial, though many others can be settled out of court.

Resources/Dedication: Mr. Lyon has worked with experts in the fields of accident reconstruction, biomechanics, epidemiology, metallurgy, pharmacology, toxicology, human factors, workplace safety, life care planning, economics, and virtually every medical discipline in successfully representing Plaintiffs across numerous areas of law. The Lyon Firm is dedicated to building the strongest cases possible for clients and their critical interests.

Results:  Mr. Lyon has obtained numerous seven and six figure results in personal injury,  automotive product liability, medical Negligence, construction accidents, and auto dealership negligence casesThe cases have involved successfully litigating against some of  the largest companies in the world.

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