OSHA Seeks Input in Developing Diacetyl Standard

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking regarding the development of a standard that addresses occupational exposure to diacetyl and food flavorings containing diacetyl. Occupational exposure to diacetyl has been linked to the lung disease commonly known as “popcorn lung.”

OSHA is requesting data, information and comment on a variety of issues related to occupational exposure to diacetyl and food flavorings containing diacetyl, including current employee exposure and potential health consequences. The agency is also soliciting comments and information on exposure assessment, control and monitoring methods, employee training, and medical surveillance of potential adverse health effects. In addition, OSHA seeks information and data on other food-flavoring components that may cause or contribute to flavoring-related lung disease.

OSHA recognizes that flavorings, including butter flavoring, are complex mixtures and may contain a number of potential airway reactive substances (e.g., diacetyl, acetoin, acetaldehyde, acetic acid, furfural). Diacetyl has been used as an indicator of exposure to butter flavoring vapors in a variety of occupational studies in microwave popcorn plants. While there is evidence that diacetyl is a factor in flavoring-related airway injury, other compounds may contribute to the development of obstructive airway disease and bronchiolitis obliterans.

Comments must be submitted by April 21, 2009 either electronically at http://www.regulations.gov, via fax at 202-693-1648, or by mail to OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. OSHA-2008-0046, Room N-2625, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20210. For more information, contact Donald Benson, a shareholder in Littler’s Atlanta office.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.