Most people are unfamiliar with popcorn lung disease until it affects them or someone they love. Many of its victims are people who work in plants where microwave popcorn is manufactured -- thus the name.
It is actually a form of a disease called bronchiolitis obliterans. It's caused by inhaling diacetyl. That's a chemical found in the artificial butter flavor that is used in microwave popcorn. However, it's also used to make some candy and even wine.
Victims of the disease often don't realize that they have it at first. The initial symptoms are usually shortness of breath, wheezing and a dry cough, all of which can develop gradually. They are similar to the symptoms associated with asthma and COPD. That's why it's important to let your doctor know if you work in a plant where diacetyl is used to help him or her make a proper diagnosis. Like any lung disease, the consequences can be severe and even life-threatening.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides companies with a list of precautions to help protect the health of their employees who are exposed to this chemical. If they fail to do so, they can face consequences. Because the disease often impacts multiple workers at a plant, lawsuits are generally most effective when they are filed as "mass torts."
The Jasmer Law Firm has nearly 15 years of experience handling personal injury claims for clients in the Chicago area and surrounding counties, including mass tort litigation. We fight vigorously for our clients and have won seven-figure settlements. They don't pay attorney fees until and unless we win compensation for them. If you or a loved one is suffering from popcorn lung disease, our free initial consultation can help identify ways we can help you.