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Health hazard evaluation report: an evaluation of respiratory health at a flavoring manufacturing facility - Kentucky.

Cummings KJ; Boylstein RJ; Stanton ML; Piacitelli CA
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 2012-0012-3192, 2013 Sep; :1-33
In October 2011, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health received a confidential employee request for a health hazard evaluation at a flavoring manufacturing facility in Kentucky. The request concerned exposure to chemicals including diacetyl, lack of respiratory protection and ventilation, and upper and lower respiratory problems including shortness of breath. Diacetyl is a butter flavoring chemical that can cause lung disease. Prior to visiting the site, we interviewed employees, the health and safety manager, and the facility's spirometry provider by telephone and reviewed documents provided by the facility. From November 29 to December 1, 2011 we visited the facility. We toured the facility, interviewed managers, and conducted private interviews with employees representing the facility's departments. We conducted air sampling for volatile organic compounds using evacuated canisters and qualitatively assessed local exhaust ventilation. We collected and reviewed reports of spirometry tests. The spirometry testing often was not conducted according to international guidelines, so we could not reliably interpret the tests. From March 12 to 22, 2012, we conducted a medical survey at the facility consisting of an interviewer-administered questionnaire and lung function tests (spirometry and diffusing capacity). We found that the facility used thousands of chemicals, some of which are recognized respiratory toxins and most of which have unknown respiratory toxicity. The facility provided a list of chemicals for which respirator use is required during the preparation of flavor recipes. There were many controls in place to limit employees' exposure to these chemicals. However, we noted some opportunities for exposure to these chemicals, including: lack of labeling of respiratory hazards in some cases, inadequate local exhaust ventilation, early removal of respiratory protection, and disposal of flavoring waste into open containers. We did not detect diacetyl in any air samples. We detected a diacetyl substitute, 2,3-pentanedione, in two air samples taken in the liquid samples room. Among current employees, some symptoms and diagnoses were more common than expected, while spirometric abnormalities were not in excess compared to U.S. adults. Most participants with obstruction did not respond to bronchodilator, meaning they had fixed obstruction. Symptoms, work-related symptoms, lung function abnormalities, and average lung function values differed by work history characteristics. Employees with longer facility tenure, those who worked in production departments, those who spent more time in production areas, and those who used flavoring ingredients tended to have more symptoms, more work-related symptoms, more lung function abnormalities, and lower average lung function values than others. These differences could not be explained by age, smoking status, or employment at another flavoring plant, and persisted in analyses limited only to production employees, suggesting that they are a result of occupational exposures at the facility.
Region-4; Food-additives; Food-handlers; Food-processing; Food-processing-industry; Food-processing-workers; Respiratory-protection; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Ventilation; Ventilation-systems; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Lung-disease; Lung-disorders; Lung-function; Volatiles; Organic-compounds; Exhaust-ventilation; Spirometry; Respirators; Author Keywords: Flavoring materials manufacturing; respiratory; flavorings; diacetyl; 2,3-pentanedione; lung function; bronchiolitis
431-03-8; 600-14-6
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
HETA-2012-0012-3192; M122013
NIOSH Division
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: April 1, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division