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Chemical that causes lung disease not regulated by OSHA

Owners of Missouri factories where chemicals are used in the production process have a duty to inform all employees of the health risks they face. Working in environments where hazardous chemicals are present can have devastating consequences for unprotected workers. One chemical that has been known to cause respiratory problems and lung disease is not included among the regulated chemicals listed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Diacetyl is a chemical that is naturally a part of coffee, beer, and butter production. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows consumption of diacetyl in trace amounts only. Although a link between the chemical and lung damage was established as long ago as the 1980s, OSHA only recognized the danger around 2000.

Diacetyl is used as flavoring in the production of several food items, including popcorn, candy and chips. Inhalation of this chemical reportedly causes significant irreversible damage to the bronchioles in the lungs by causing scar tissue. According to a media report, a worker at a plant where diacetyl is used during the roasting of coffee beans was unable to continue working after being exposed to the chemical for 18 months. Another worker at the same plant was apparently informed that she needed a lung transplant.

When workers are not informed about the hazards to which they are exposed, especially hazards that are invisible, they are at a tremendous disadvantage. Hazardous chemicals have the potential to cause life-changing work-related illnesses. Missouri workers who suffer the consequences of a lung disease that resulted from unsafe work environments may pursue benefit claims from the workers’ compensation insurance fund. Proving that the illness is work-related may not be easy, so some victims choose to utilize the services of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

Source: manufacturing.net, “Report Chronicles Dangers Of Flavoring Chemical”, Andy Szal, Feb. 18, 2015