Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

Font Size

House Says Yes to Popcorn Lung Bill

Legislation Would Require New Worker Protections
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 26, 2007 -- The U.S. House of Representatives called for stricter new standards Wednesday to protect workers exposed to flavoring chemicals in popcorn plants.

Lawmakers passed a bill forcing federal regulators to enact fast-track regulations that would increase health monitoring and protections for employees who work with diacetyl. The chemical, which helps give microwave popcorn a butter taste, has been linked to a rare but potentially deadly lung ailment in workers.

The bill calls on the Labor Department to tighten diacetyl exposure standards within three months, much faster than federal regulations usually go into effect.

"We need an emergency standard right now," Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) tells WebMD. "Hundreds of workers have been affected by this."

Diacetyl has been linked to bronchiolitis obliterans, a disease characterized by destruction of the lung's small air passages.

Leading microwave popcorn manufacturers have said they plan to stop using diacetyl, but the ingredient is present in other processed foods as well.

The bill, which passed 260-154, also requires companies to develop protection plans, including the use of respirators, to guard workers.

The Environmental Protection Agency is set to release a study that could begin to help determine whether diacetyl fumes pose risk during home cooking. The study is looking at levels of the chemical emitted by popcorn during the cooking process.

The Senate has not yet acted on the bill.

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) voted against the bill Wednesday. "Congress is in no position to diagnose the problem here," he says.

"If there's something wrong with popcorn, how did Orville Redenbacher live so long?" he says.

Today on WebMD

man coughing
You may not even know you have it.
blood clot
Signs of this potentially fatal complication.
man coughing
When a cold becomes bronchitis.
human lungs
Causes behind painful breathing, fluid buildup.

chest x-ray
Bronchitis Overview
Copd Myth Fact Quiz
Energy Boosting Foods

woman coughing
Lung xray and caduceus