Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Popcorn Lung Problem Continues To Grow

The Contra Costa Times has more on the growing "popcorn lung" disaster.
Federal health officials have launched a nationwide investigation of working conditions in flavoring factories after the discovery of a devastating lung disease among two former California workers and possibly three others in the Los Angeles area.

At the same time, a group of 21 California legislators and the nation's two largest food-industry labor unions are urging state job-safety regulators to issue an emergency order restricting workers' exposure to vapors from an artificial butter flavoring. The flavoring chemical, called diacetyl (di-As-itle), has been strongly linked to the disease, called bronchiolitis obliterans.

The two actions arise in response to recent news of the latest confirmed victim, a 44-year-old woman in the Los Angeles area, and growing concerns about the safety of America's 3,700 other workers on the flavoring production lines.

While the number of confirmed cases to date is small, federal and state health investigators said they have only just begun to collaborate and look beyond the three Southern California flavoring plants where the known and suspect victims worked.

"A concerted effort is really being made across many agencies to address this problem and really find out what is needed to protect these workers," said Barbara Materna, California's chief of occupational health.
More Popcorn Lung stories here.