Exposure to vapors from butter flavoring in microwave popcorn has been linked to a rare lung disease contracted by factory workers in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has said it suspects the chemical diacetyl caused the illnesses.
However, health officials insist people who microwave popcorn and eat it at home are not in danger.
In the first direct study of chemicals contained in one of the nation’s most popular snack foods, the EPA’s Indoor Environment Management Branch at Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, is examining the type and amount of chemicals emitted from microwave popcorn bags.
Further research would be needed to determine any health effects of those chemicals and whether consumers are at risk, said Jacky Rosati, an EPA scientist involved in the study.