Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Let no rat die in vain.

Popcorn Lung Trial Follow-Up

This is off a listserve from Dr. David Egilman who provided crucial testimony for Eric Peoples in the popcorn lung trial:
BASF conducted an animal study of butter flavor in 1993. It revealed that the flavor was toxic to rat lungs at exposure levels that were lower than those experienced by many (perhaps all) workers with direct contact to it in popcorn manufacturing facilities. Workers with indirect contact (packaging) may also experience cumulative exposures above those that killed the rats.

Unfortunately the rats died in vain. BASF never published the study and never turned it over to NIOSH after they began to investigate the occurrence of bronchiolitis obliterans in some exposed workers. The study was turned over during discovery in the current lawsuit. Another gastric study revealed toxicity but this study was not easily obtained and was omitted from all MSDS sheets.

Clinical and perhaps animal trials of cytoxan and steroids and other drugs should be instituted to help determine how to best treat these workers.

If anyone has an idea about how to organize this let me know. BASF, and IFF [International Flavors and Fragrances Inc.] and FEMA [Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association] should fund these.

Finally case-controlled studies of "idiopathic" bronchiolitis cases may reveal the magnitude of the problem nationally or turn up other occupational causes of this disease.

Companies should be required to publish all such studies. Let the word go forth - Let no rat die in vain.
Egilman is a Clinical Associate Professor at Brown University.

vapor vapors
Additional articles in this series are listed at the right under Greatest Hits