POPCORN LUNG DISEASE
AUTHORED BY KRIS L. WILLIAMS, ESQ.
About 15 years ago, workers in plants making microwave popcorn began experiencing symptoms including dry coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing. For many, a diagnosis of Bronchiolitis obliterans, a lung disease where the sufferer’s breathing is constricted due to scarring of the bronchioles (airways), soon followed. Bronchiolitis obliterans, now commonly known as “popcorn lung,” is linked to inhaling fumes of diacetyl, a chemical compound used in the production of microwave popcorn. Giving or enhancing food’s buttery-flavor, diacetyl is a common food additive and is also found naturally in several foods.
Several multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements have been reached regarding claims made by employees of microwave popcorn producers. Popcorn lung has even been diagnosed in at least one consumer of the popular confection as well. A federal appellate court in Colorado recently affirmed a jury award of over $7 Million** to a consumer, who for years habitually ate microwave popcorn and directly inhaled the vapor immediately after opening the bags.
Current medical science cannot reverse the disease, but measures can be taken to prolong the lives of those afflicted. Unfortunately, the disease is often mis-diagnosed as pneumonia, emphysema, asthma, or bronchitis.
Employees working with diacetyl, along with habitual consumers of microwave popcorn, who are experiencing breathing-related problems should seek proper medical care and diagnoses and contact an attorney right away. There are time restrictions that can limit one’s ability to recover full and complete compensation for injuries caused by the negligence of others. The attorneys here at Heiting and Irwin have over 100 years combined experience handling complex cases with extreme damages and are available for free initial consultations.
**$5 Million was awarded in punitive damages because of evidence that the defendant intentionally hid the dangers from consumers.