On August 12, 2011 the National Institute for Occupational Safety Health (“NIOSH”) issued a detailed paper for external review which calls, for the first time, an occupational exposure limit for Diacetyl and 2,3-Pentanedione. This paper was issued by NIOSH as a result of extensive studies that were done following the development of various cases of severe obstructive lung disease, also known as bronchiolitis obliterans. This disease has been associated with Diacetyl where it was utilized in various facilities making butter flavor for microwave popcorn. A series of research papers began to establish a potential causative link between intense exposure to Diacetyl and the risk of developing bronchiolitis obliterans, which is incurable. NIOSH proceeded to use cross-sectional pulmonary function data from workers exposed to Diacetyl in conducting an analysis to determine to exposure and response relationship, and to identify the risk of pulmonary function decrease at various levels of Diacetyl exposure. NIOSH confirmed from its studies that a relationship did exist between Diacetyl exposure and lower pulmonary function.
Using this quantitative risk analysis, which is set forth in great detail in the external review draft, NIOSH is recommending that exposure to Diacetyl be kept below a concentration of 5 parts per billion at a time weighted average during a forty hour work week. NIOSH has determined that workers that are exposed to Diacetyl at this concentration should have no more than a 1 in 1,000 chance of suffering reduced lung function associated with Diacetyl exposure, and less chance for developing diseases such as bronchiolitis obliterans. Furthermore, to protect against effects of short term exposure, NIOSH is also recommending a short term exposure limit for Diacetyl at 25 parts per billion for a fifteen minute period of time...
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