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Are Coffee Workers Across the Country at Risk for Lung Disease?

EMSL Analytical provides testing and sampling supplies to identify diacetyl to protect coffee roasters and food processors from exposure hazards.

Cinnaminson, NJ – WEBWIRE
EMSL Analytical, Inc. Laboratory Locations
EMSL Analytical, Inc. Laboratory Locations

Earlier this year, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published the science blog, Coffee Workers at Risk for Lung Disease. It discusses diacetyl and a diacetyl substitute (2,3-pentanedione) which are both volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are produced naturally and commercially.

According to the NIOSH science blog, diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione are produced as ingredients in flavorings that are added to some food products. These include microwave popcorn, bakery mixes and flavored coffee. However, they are both also naturally produced when coffee beans are roasted. The article goes on to discuss five workers from a coffee processing facility who were diagnosed with the lung disease, bronchiolitis obliterans.

The health effects associated with worker exposure to diacetyl and food flavorings containing diacetyl (FFCD) has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports the following: A number of employees exposed to FFCD have developed serious respiratory illness presenting with persistent dry cough, wheezing, shortness of breath upon exertion, and fixed airways obstruction on spirometry. Several employees have been diagnosed with asthma or bronchiolitis obliterans. Bronchiolitis obliterans occurs when small airways become inflamed and scarred, resulting in the thickening and narrowing of the airways. The symptoms and airways obstruction range from mild to severe, and do not improve when the employee goes home or on vacation. Because bronchiolitis obliterans is a rare disease, some employees may have been potentially misdiagnosed with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and/or pneumonia. The loss of pulmonary function associated with severe bronchiolitis obliterans is permanent and some patients have been placed on lung transplant waiting lists.

“From coast to coast there are countless workers involved in the coffee industry and food manufacturing that could be exposed to varying levels of diacetyl and food flavorings containing diacetyl,” said Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “While more research is underway, it is clear that minimizing exposure to these volatile organic compounds is a good idea. At EMSL, we offer diacetyl testing services to help identify exposure risks to minimize workers’ exposure.”

EMSL recently sponsored a video about diacetyl workplace exposure concerns that can be seen at:

To learn more about testing for diacetyl or food flavorings containing diacetyl, please visit or, email  or call (800) 220-3675.

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.

EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of environmental, indoor air quality, consumer product and materials testing services and products for professionals and the general public.  The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.

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 lung disease
 occupational hazard

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