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Volatile organic compounds generated from artificial butter flavors in microwave popcorn production.
Boylstein R; Piacitelli C; Kullman G; Grote A
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 10-15, 2003, Dallas, Texas. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2003 May; :57
Artificial butter flavors are suspected to contain the etiological agent(s) associated with the fixed obstructive airways disease seen among microwave popcorn workers. Inhalation toxicological studies have shown severe respiratory effects in rats exposed to artificial butter flavor. We investigated the volatile organic components from flavorings manufactured by several companies to gain a better understanding of worker exposures as a basis for control and prevention. Bulk samples of 13 different artificial butter flavors were collected from four different microwave popcorn facilities. These bulk samples were heated to approximately 50 degrees C and the emissions were analyzed by gas chromatography with a mass selective detector. The flavorings were found to contain a complex mixture of over 150 different volatile organic compounds. Diacetyl, a known respiratory irritant, is a significant component in most artificial butter flavors and was detected in all of the flavor samples analyzed. Predominant compounds found in these samples included diacetyl, acetoin, and butyric acid. The complexity of these flavoring agents impedes the identification of an etiologic agent(s) for fixed airways obstruction and substitution control efforts. Administrative, engineering, and personal protective controls are recommended for worker protection at microwave popcorn plants and other facilities using heated, artificial butter flavorings.
Organic-compounds; Microwave-radiation; Etiology; Airway-obstruction; Workers; Inhalation-studies; Respiratory-irritants; Respiratory-system-disorders; Work-environment; Occupational-exposure; Gas-chromatography; Food-additives
Disease and Injury: Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; Research Tools and Approaches: Exposure Assessment Methods
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 10-15, 2003, Dallas, Texas
Page last reviewed: December 18, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division