NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2006-0303-3043, report on severe fixed obstructive lung disease in workers at a flavoring manufacturing plant, Carmi Flavor and Fragrance Company, Inc., Commerce, California.

Kanwal-R; Kullman-G
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, HETA 2006-0303-3043, 2007 Apr; :1-75
On June 11, 2006, CDHS-OHB and Cal/OSHA made a joint request for NIOSH technical assistance with industrial hygiene assessment and medical screening for occupational lung disease risk at the Carmi Flavor and Fragrance Company plant in Commerce, California. At the time of this request, Cal/OSHA was conducting a compliance investigation at this facility due to the identification in April 2006 of a former worker (and possibly a second worker) with bronchiolitis obliterans. NIOSH investigators were aware of similarly affected workers at five other flavoring plants, and had previously investigated similar lung disease in microwave popcorn workers, identifying inhalation exposure to butter flavoring chemicals as the cause. In July 2006, NIOSH staff conducted a medical survey at the plant consisting of an interviewer-administered questionnaire and lung function testing with spirometry. In August 2006, NIOSH staff conducted industrial hygiene air sampling in all areas of the plant. NIOSH staff conducted follow-up spirometry tests on production and laboratory workers at the plant in November 2006. NIOSH staff conducted spirometry tests on 34 of 36 current workers and administered the questionnaire to 31 of 36 current workers at the plant. One former laboratory worker had the questionnaire and spirometry administered at the plant and two former production workers had the questionnaire and spirometry administered at an off-site location. Workers in all areas of the plant commonly reported symptoms of eye and nasal irritation. Respiratory symptoms were reported more often by production workers who made powdered flavorings and by laboratory workers. Respiratory illness was reported mostly by production workers who ever worked in powdered flavoring production. Respiratory illness was reported infrequently by other workers. Of the16 current workers and two former workers who had a history of working in the production room, four were found to have abnormal spirometry: one had mild restriction and the other three had severe fixed obstruction (FEV1 ranged from 21 to 32 percent of predicted). All three production workers with severe obstruction had made powdered flavorings. The highest area TWA total VOC concentrations were seen in the production room, with concentrations ranging from 10.3 mg/m3 to a high of 38.5 mg/m3. The highest real-time area total VOC concentrations (greater than 100,000 ppb units) were identified in the powdered flavoring production area during production of a butter-flavored baking powder which contained diacetyl, specifically when the production worker was filling boxes with the finished product. Some of the highest peak real-time VOC concentrations observed in the liquid flavoring production area may have resulted from migration of contaminants from the powdered flavoring production area. Full-shift personal and area mean TWA diacetyl air concentrations in the liquid flavoring production area were 0.030 ppm and 0.025 ppm respectively, and in the powdered flavoring production area were 0.223 ppm and 0.249 ppm respectively. Partial-shift personal and area mean TWA diacetyl air concentrations in the powdered flavoring production area during the production of butter-flavored and vanilla-flavored powders were 7.76 ppm and 21.2 ppm respectively. Real-time FTIR sampling in the workers' breathing zones during the production of these butter- and vanilla-flavored powders showed peak diacetyl air concentrations as high as 204 ppm during the packaging of the finished product.
Region-9; Pulmonary-function-tests; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Volatiles; Organic-chemicals; Respirable-dust; Respiratory-irritants; Respiratory-system-disorders; Ketones; Chronic-inflammation; Medical-screening; Employee-exposure; Bronchial-asthma; Lung-disease; Food-additives; Food-processing; Food-processing-industry; Food-processing-workers; Airway-obstruction; Skin-irritants; Smoking; Fatigue; Author Keywords: Flavoring Syrup and Concentrate Manufacturing; bronchiolitis; respiratory; flavorings; diacetyl; airways obstruction
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505
431-03-8; 75-07-0; 100-52-7; 513-86-0
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
NIOSH Division
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division