Issue Date: March 24, 2008
NIEHS Tests Diacetyl Toxicity In Mice
A study by researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and Duke University has found that exposure to the butter-flavor compound diacetyl (2,3-butanedione) causes respiratory disease in mice. The study provides more evidence for the toxicity of diacetyl, which is associated with severe obstructive lung disease in some workers at plants that package microwave popcorn. The mice in the NIEHS study were exposed for three months to concentrations of diacetyl comparable with what workers inhale at the popcorn plants. The mice developed lymphocytic bronchiolitis, a precursor to obliterative bronchiolitis, the disease diagnosed in humans. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention plans to conduct its own large study on inhalation toxicity for butter-flavor compounds to pinpoint other toxic components and to help identify biomarkers to use for early detection of illness.
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