CDC warns against toxic exposure to diacetyl

Most workplaces hold some degree of risk. While workers in California seek to avoid falls, burns and other accidents, many may be unaware of the invisible risks they face, including toxic exposure to sometimes unseen elements in their workplaces — exposure that can sometimes be deadly. In fact, the Center for Disease Control has recently issued new recommendations regarding workers’ exposure to diacetyl.

Diacetyl is a chemical that occurs naturally in roasted coffee. It is also created synthetically for use in popcorn and other foods or drinks to create a buttery taste. While safe if consumed in small amounts, inhalation of the chemical can have a deadly impact. The chemical inflames airways in the lungs, creating irreversible scar tissue. Other health issues related to exposure have also been reported.

Scientists began expressing their concern about the chemical over a decade ago when they discovered a link between it and deaths of workers in California and other parts of the country. It is unclear how many workers could be exposed to diacetyl in their workplaces, but there are reportedly 600,000 employees working in just the coffee industry. Officials with the National Coffee Association deny that the chemical seriously threatens workers, arguing that exposure levels recommended by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health are unnecessarily low.

Unfortunately, toxic exposure can cause serious harm to workers in California and across the country. Victims include workers who are suffering as well as people who lose a family member as a result. While federal organizations attempt to reduce such exposure, there are many already suffering. These victims may also struggle financially as well. An attorney with experience with workers’ compensation insurance benefits can help them seek relief for the financial consequences of harm suffered in the workplace, including funeral expenses, loss of wages and medical bills.

Source: khou.com, “CDC calls on food industry to protect workers from common additive“, Raquel Rutledge, Nov. 2, 2016

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