On August 28, 2001, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a health hazard evaluation (HHE) request from management at B.K. Heuermann Popcorn, Inc. to evaluate work processes and exposures occurring during the packaging of microwave popcorn. This request was motivated in part by the fact that several workers experienced eye injuries and cough while using a new flavoring in August 2001. The worker that prepares the mixture of oil, flavorings, salt, and coloring, was found to have fixed airways obstruction on evaluation by a pulmonologist soon after this event. NIOSH investigators visited your plant on September 27, 2001, to perform an initial walkthrough, conduct an opening meeting with management and workers, and conduct confidential worker interviews and lung function testing with spirometry. A NIOSH industrial hygiene survey was conducted from December 11 to December 13, 2001. An interim letter containing medical findings, preliminary air sampling results, and recommendations, was sent to you on April 19, 2002. The current letter provides additional air sampling results, additional background information on flavoring-related lung disease in the microwave popcorn industry, and updated recommendations. It also constitutes the final report for this health hazard evaluation.
Region-7; Hazard-Confirmed; 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; Smoking; Fatigue; Food-additives; Food-colors; Food-processing; Chest-X-rays; Airway-obstruction; Lung-irritants