Focus on Health Hazards Of Microwave Popcorn Butter Flavorings Containing Diacetyl

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Microwave Popcorn Butter Flavorings

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced that it is initiating a National Emphasis Program (NEP) to address the hazards and control measures associated with working in the microwave popcorn industry where butter flavorings containing diacetyl are used.

"We recognize that there are potential occupational health hazards associated with butter flavorings containing diacetyl," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Edwin G. Foulke Jr. "Under this program, OSHA will target inspection resources to those workplaces where we anticipate the highest employee exposures to these hazards."

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The NEP applies to all workplaces where butter flavored microwave popcorn is being manufactured.

In January of 2006, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released an investigative report on a microwave popcorn production facility. Several employees from this facility were diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans -- a severe obstructive lung disease. Following a number of lung function tests and air sampling, NIOSH determined that inhalation exposure to butter flavoring chemicals is a risk for occupational lung disease. OSHA's National Emphasis Program will provide direction on inspection targeting and procedures, methods of controlling the hazard and compliance assistance.

The 24 states and two U.S. territories that operate their own OSHA programs are encouraged, but not required, to adopt a similar emphasis program.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees.

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