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In recent weeks, a new petition was filed requesting immediate action to protect factory workers from diacetyl, a commonly used synthetic butter flavoring tied to a rare lung disease—bronchiolitis obliterans. The petition was filed by the western states’ arm of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and the California State Labor Federation urging that the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Cal-OSHA) require companies using diacetyl to control airborne levels and provide workers with respirators. In addition, it also demands that the companies provide workers with information on the dangers of the chemical and asks that Cal-OSHA initiate inspections and develop a permanent rule governing diacetyl.
This latest petition comes a month after a similar one filed with the Department of Labor, and two years since the National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) first warned of the connections between diacetyl and lung disease. It was at that time that the first major US case was filed by workers who had contracted the disease, which resulted in a $20 verdict.