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Friday, July 28, 2006 

Hold the Butter, Please.....

Orville Reddenbacher might not enjoy the news.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been withholding the results of a 2003 study that may indicate potential health risks from inhaling artificial butter flavor vapors from microwave popcorn, a group of scientists and former Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials say.

Some workers at microwave popcorn factories have been diagnosed with a rare and fatal lung disease — dubbed "popcorn workers' lung" — and several of them are on lung transplant lists. The disease, bronchiolitis obliterans, is a serious and irreversible inflammation of the airways leading to the lungs. Studies in toxicology journals have linked diacetyl — a common food flavoring and main ingredient of artificial butter flavoring — to disease in laboratory animals.

It is not clear how many workers have been affected, but thousands of workers have been exposed to artificial butter vapors containing diacetyl and at least one employee has died. "This is a tragic example of the failure of the public health regulatory system," said David Michaels, associate chairman of the department of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University. -
Deseret News
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