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Lung diseases

Diacetyl

03/03/2011

Question:

Hi,

I recently received a job offer from a company that makes flavorings and I would assume they use diacetyl which I understand has been shown to be pretty nasty under the right conditions. I was wondering if you had any incite concerning what has been brought up concerning this as I have not found a lot of what looked like reliable info on the web concerning it. Found the Govt. websites and a bunch of classaction lawyer sites etc. Is this mostly dependent on exposure amounts, are some people more susceptable than others, are either of these really known yet?

Answer:

Hi, I would start by saying that if the company uses diacetyl they should have an updated Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) that lay out precautions and they should be working with employees to make sure they are trained in the safe use of this chemical, including ventilation, respiratory protection, etc. If the company does not acknowledge the risks associated with diacetyl and does not appear to be engaged with their employees in preventing exposure, then I would not take the job. I do not know of any particular subgroups of people that are more or less susceptible to the effects of this chemical, but the safest thing is to avoid any respiratory exposure. Animal studies are clear that this can cause respiratory irritation and damage. The cases among humans point to the potential for permanent lung damage, sometimes putting victims on waiting lists for lung transplant

You can find additional information on diacetyl at the links below. Let me know if you have any further questions.

Related Resources:

Harard Communication Guidance for Diacetyl and Food Flavorings Containing Diacetyl
Diacetyl (Butter Flavor Chemical) Use in Flavoring Manufacturing Companies

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Response by:

J Mac Crawford, PhD, RN J Mac Crawford, PhD, RN
Clinical Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences
College of Public Health
The Ohio State University