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Working Safely with Flavorings

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Research shows a relationship between extended workplace exposure to flavoring chemicals containing diacetyl and severe obstructive lung disease. In some cases, lung biopsies have shown the presence of a rare condition, constrictive bronchiolitis obliterans, which, when severe enough, can become fatal.

Diacetyl Threat Settings where workers are at a high risk for extended contact with diacetyl are:

  • Flavoring plants
  • Microwave popcorn plants
  • Commercial and retail bakeries
  • Snack food and candy plants
  • Dairy products and packaged vegetable oil plants, such as margarine and cooking oil
  • Other flavored food production plants

For your own safety, always make sure you know what chemicals are in your workplace. Take time to read the labels on any chemical container as well as the material safety data sheet (MSDS) before working with a new additive. When you identify chemicals containing diacetyl, make sure you take the proper safety precautions as listed on the MSDS or product label.

Preventing Lung Damage One of the best ways to prevent lung damage is also one of the easiest—wear a respirator. Simple and effective, a respirator with NIOSH-approved 100 filters should be used whenever you are handling flavoring chemicals.

Regularly check that your respirator is in good condition and functioning properly. Adjust straps to ensure a good fit that allows the respirator to seal to your face. Remember, proper use is essential for maximum protection.

Eye and Skin Concerns While flavorings primarily pose a concern for lung health, they can also act as an irritant to eyes and skin.

Wear protective goggles to prevent splash and/or vapor exposure while handling chemicals. In addition, wear long sleeves and gloves to protect your skin from coming into direct contact with any irritating agents.

If your skin does come in contact with a chemical, wash the area immediately and consult the MSDS for additional safety information. Alert your supervisor if your skin or eyes become irritated following exposure.

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.

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