Diacetyl, a chemical implicated several years ago in severe lung disease in microwave popcorn factory workers, is causing concern in a new industry – coffee. According to an NPR report, diacetyl is not a concern for ordinary consumers, but it can cause a dangerous illness called obliterative bronchiolitis in employees regularly exposed to it. The issue first caught the attention of investigators at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention back in 2012, when workers at a Texas roasting plant were falling ill. They tested the facility for diacetyl and it was found in high levels, especially in areas where flavored coffee beans were produced. The CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is now fielding a dozen requests for similar inspections across the country as the issue gains traction.
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