Diacetyl, the buttery-flavored chemical used in microwave popcorn, may be banned in California by 2010. The fumes from it cause terrible lung-disease in people who work around it.
Assemblywoman Sally Lieber (D) has introduced a bill to ban diacetyl use by 2010. The chemical is an artificial butter flavoring most commonly used in microwave popcorn. Numerous study have found links between the chemical used by flavor workers and a rare disease called bronchiolitis obliterans. For those of you who aren’t 2000 yr old Romans, that means that the bronchioles and some of the smaller bronchi are obliterated by masses made up of fiberous tissue. It’s like sticking marbles into the networks of tubes in your lung that connect fresh air to the alveoli, the little sacs where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged with the blood. As you Romans can imagine, that’s haud sanus. According to the WaPo, flavoring manufacturers have paid out more than $100 million due to health lawsuits. An excellent case study and background to this whole mess can be found at Defending Science.