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Butter Flavoring Diacetyl Linked to More Lung Damage Cases


California health officials believe they've found more cases of lung damage linked to a chemical used in the food flavoring industry. Officials suspect the culprit is the chemical diacetyl, an artificial butter flavoring. KPBS reporter Kenny Goldberg has more.

Diacetyl is an artificial flavoring used in microwave popcorn and other food products. Earlier this year, state health officials said at least eight workers suffered permanent lung damage linked to diacetyl exposure. Officials say ongoing surveillance has revealed another 22 suspected cases.

Dr. David Michaels is with the George Washington University School of Public Health.

Michaels : The federal government has no standard on diacetyl exposure in workplaces. The California OSHA office is moving toward a standard, but right now there's no standard anywhere to protect workers.

A bill in the California assembly would ban the use of diacetyl in the workplace by 2010. The food industry says that could mean some products consumers like wouldn't be available.

Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.

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