Popcorn Lung

When I was driving through Missouri last week I saw a billboard for an attorney advertising for people who had worked in a popcorn factory and were now experiencing respiratory problems. (No, I didn’t take a picture.)  Now I have discovered the reason. An unusual condition called bronchiolitis obliterans can be caused by breathing the fumes of an artificial butter flavoring called diacetyl  that has been used extensively in microwave popcorn. Now it appears that the CDC, FDA, OSHA,  and the EPA all knew about it–the EPA did a study in 2003 and gave the results to private industries, although the information was not released to the public. Once the lawsuits against the private companies fall into place, I suspect there will be some questions about maladministration in the regulatory agencies to add to case histories of disasters like the Vandalia mine and the Challenger explosions.

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