Wayne Watson loved eating popcorn so much that his over-extensive intake of two bags a day for ten years caused him to develop a rare lung disorder from the fumes, ABC News reported. He was diagnosed in 2007 with bronchiolitis obliterans, more commonly known now as “popcorn lung.”
What Causes “Popcorn Lung”?
Watson, a Denver native, developed this disease from a seemingly non-threatening action of inhaling the artificial butter smell every time he popped a bag into the microwave. He is the first non-plant worker known to receive this disease from over exposure. He didn’t know the artificial smell was caused by diacetyl.
- According to U.S Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), diacetyl is a natural byproduct of fermentation and is also synthesized by chemical manufacturers.
- It gives butter and certain food flavorings a distinctive buttery flavor and aroma.
- It can cause damage to the respiratory tract and lungs if inhaled. Diacetyl has also been recently linked to Alzheimer’s.
About Watson’s Lawsuit
Watson sued against Gilster-Mary Lee Corp., The Kroger Co. and Dillion Companies Inc. While the defense attorneys argued that Watson’s lung problem was due to a result of working with carpet cleaning chemicals for years, the jury ruled in Watson’s favor and granted him a settlement of $7.2 million.
According to a report by Time News Feed, Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. released a statement that their company has served quality and safe microwavable popcorn for over two decades. The company said it is disappointed by the decision of the jury and is evaluating its next steps.
Watson told ABC News that he plans to donate to a charity from his settlement, but he does not plan to buy another bag of popcorn.
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