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Diseases > Popcorn Workers Lung (Bronchiolitis Obliterans)

Popcorn Workers Lung, also known as bronchiolitis obliterans, is a debilitating and sometimes fatal lung disease that occurs when the smallest airways of the lung become inflamed and scarred, resulting an obstruction of the airways, which interferes with ventilation, the movement of air in the lungs.

Workers in microwavable popcorn factories using diacetyl, a chemical used to give microwave popcorn and other snack foods a buttery flavor, are more susceptible to develop this disease, hence the nick name Popcorn Workers Lung.

Many workers at microwave popcorn factories or other factories, where this flavoring substance is used, have become sick. NIOSH (The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) has found from 1992 to 2000 that eight former workers of the Gilster-Mary Lee microwave popcorn plant in Jasper, Missouri, developed this disease. At least one has died due to this disease and others are waiting for lung transplants.

The disease has been plaguing workers in the snack foods industry for years. But despite all the evidence linking diacetyl exposure to the onset of Popcorn Workers Lung, no federal has sought to regulate the toxic substance. Anyway, House of Representatives has passed a bill recently, which would force the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to regulate diacetyl exposure in factories that make microwave popcorn and other snacks.


A patient with bronchiolitis obliterans generally experience shortness of breath and have a dry cough. The patient’s lung capacity will be at about 16% to 21% lung usage, where as, normal capacity is about 80%. The common symptoms are given below:

  • Cough usually dry
  • Fever (sometimes)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss


The only cure to this disease is a lung transplant. Treatment options are extremely limited. Steroids (such as prednisone) may be prescribed to reduce inflammation.

Free initial consultation - If you or a loved one has developed an injury or disease due to working with artificial butter flavoring, please fill out and submit the form at the right or contact us today at 1-800-780-2686

Breaking News

11 Diacetyl Lawsuits Prepared for Trail
A second round of lawsuits for workers and neighbors of a microwave popcorn packaging plant in Jasper has been reduced to 11 remaining plaintiffs... Read More
OSHA speeds up procedures to protect Workers from bronchiolitis obliterans
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is planning to act quickly to protect workers from a severe lung disease caused by diacetyl, an artificial butter flavoring generally added to popcorn and some other food products... Read More

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Popcorn Workers Lung (Bronchiolitis Obliterans)
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