Popcorn lung is a rare and dangerous disease that occurs at a higher rate among microwave popcorn factory workers and flavor production factory workers. It has also been identified among some consumers who were heavy, daily eaters of butter microwave popcorn.
Popcorn lung disease was first encountered in 2000, when the Missouri Department of Health and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) looked into a strange lung disease found in popcorn factory workers called bronchiolitis obliterans – obliteration of the bronchioles. Bronchioles are the tiniest airways of the lungs. A chemical used in artificial butter flavoring, called diacetyl, when released into the air and inhaled, is toxic to the lungs.
What Are the Symptoms to Popcorn Lung Disease?
Diacetyl causes a reaction in the bronchioles, inflammation, and subsequent scarring. This scarring can then completely block the tiny airways, creating the permanent lung condition. Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. Often, the only medical solution is a lung transplant.
Can You Sue If You Are Diagnosed With Popcorn Lung Disease?
Yes. Companies that manufactured or sold products that contain chemicals used to give microwave popcorn a butter flavor owed a duty to both users of the popcorn and industry workers. This duty was to adequately test the product and warn the public about the potential hazards. Microwave popcorn lung lawsuits have resulted in millions of dollars of compensation being awarded to popcorn factory workers diagnosed with popcorn lung disease or consumers of the product.
The lawsuits brought against the manufacturers who are liable for exposure to consumers and workers allege that the defendants:
- Did not warn about the potential risks involved inhaling the vapors in the popcorn flavor butter.
- Did not report side effects for popcorn factory workers.
- Did not provide adequate warnings or instructions for proper use of the popcorn.
- Did not do proper test to see if the product they use is harmful or if there are safer alternatives.
Should I Consult a Personal Injury Attorney?
Asbestos injuries can be difficult to identify and offer unique legal challenges. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine what rights you have under your state's laws. A personal injury lawyer can also explain all your options and help you file any necessary paperwork in court.