House Pushes 'Popcorn Lung' Bill | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: September 27, 2007

House Pushes 'Popcorn Lung' Bill

Legislation requires OSHA to set standard for diacetyl within 90 days
Department: Government & Policy

The House of Representatives is set to pass legislation, the Popcorn Workers Lung Disease Prevention Act (H.R. 2693), that requires OSHA to set an interim standard for workplace exposure to the butter-flavor chemical diacetyl (2,3-butanedione) in 90 days and a final standard within two years.

Concern over diacetyl exposure has risen dramatically since reports that workers mixing the compound in microwave popcorn plants have contracted serious obstructive lung disease. Major microwave popcorn makers have already pledged to stop using diacetyl in their products, but it continues to be used as butter flavoring in many other food products.

Support for the measure comes from organized labor and the Flavor & Extract Manufacturers Association, whose members are worried about worker exposures wherever the compound might be used.

Other manufacturers, however, strongly oppose the bill. A consortium of 14 groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, says there are no data available that can be used to set an OSHA-permissible exposure limit and a proper analysis would not be allowed under the time frame of the bill.

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