Popcorn lung (bronchiolitis obliterans) is also known as obliterative bronchiolitis or constrictive bronchiolitis. It is an incurable lung disease that is caused by inhalation of flavoring chemicals such as diacetyl which are used as artificial butter flavoring in microwave popcorn. While most of the people who have been diagnosed with popcorn lung are or were popcorn plant workers, consumers may also be at risk for developing this disease.
Studies conducted at six microwave popcorn plants in 2006 concluded that flavoring chemicals, namely diacetyl, can cause bronchiolitis obliterans. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), diacetyl emits toxic vapors when it is heated. In the popcorn plants studied, the highest incidence of popcorn lung was in workers stationed in the quality control areas. Here, popcorn was microwaved and sampled in large quantities, so workers in these areas face consistent and prolonged exposure to heated diacetyl vapors.
Popcorn lung is often misdiagnosed or delayed in diagnosis because many of the symptoms of this disease mimic those of other, much more common conditions such as emphysema, asthma, and bronchitis. Symptoms include:
- Lung tissue scarring or hardening
- Dry cough
- Night sweats
- Shortness of breath
- Skin peeling
Can I file a lawsuit if I have have been injured by Popcorn Lung?
Possibly. If a manufacturer produces a dangerous or defective product, it can be held responsible to those who are injured as the result of inadequate warnings, under a legal theory known as “product liability.” Depending upon the particular circumstances of your case, damages may include recovery for any of the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Emotional distress
If you or a loved one has been harmed by Popcorn Lung, you should contact your doctor immediately. You may also wish to contact an experienced Popcorn Lung lawyer to discuss your legal options. As all legal claims are subject to time limits, however, you may risk forfeiture of your right to financial compensation if you delay.