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What caues someone to get Popcorn Lung?

Can Making Popcorn Cause Popcorn Lung?

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Bronchiolitis obliterans or constrictive bronchiolitis is popularly known as Popcorn Worker’s Lung or Popcorn Lung. This is because the common people inflicted with the illness are workers who are working in popcorn factories. Popcorn lung is commonly caused by inhaling diacetyl which is a chemical that is being used in popcorn to create a butter or cheese aroma in the favorite snack. Although ingesting diacetyl is practically safe, inhaling the fumes released by it can cause the popcorn lung disease.

People who have popcorn lung experience difficulty in breathing due to the constructive airway, shortness of breath, dry cough, wheezing, and reduced lung capacity. Aside from inhaling these fumes, popcorn lung can be caused by other factors such as transplant rejection, vascular diseases, and infections in the airway.

A study and research was conducted by the NIOSH or National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and they found out that most of the workers in popcorn factories experience shortness of breath, chronic cough, and even airway obstruction. To combat this illness, some of the popcorn factories changed the flavor of the popcorn to protect the health of their workers. Although diacetyl is not harmful for consumers since it is a natural occurring chemical, popcorn factory workers are at risk because they inhale the fumes everyday. In fact, workers from International Flavoring and Fragrances sued the company wherein four of the workers received 53 million dollars (USD) and the workers won the case. Right now, there are several popcorn and flavoring companies who have reduced diacetyl in their products to protect and preserve their workers.

As mentioned above, diacetyl does not cause any illness when ingested but there was a report regarding a consumer who had popcorn lung due to excessive consumption of popcorn. the consumer inhales the fumes right after microwaving the popcorn, which contributed to the disease.

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