Sun special report: Industry at risk

A look at the health hazards associated with a chemical commonly found in the food flavoring industry.

April 23, 2006

Disease is swift, response is slow

It took two years on the job and a chemical in something as ordinary as butter flavoring to turn a strapping factory worker into someone who sleeps tethered to an oxygen tank.

April 23, 2006

A diagnosis of asthma, until it was far too late

Dennis Yatsko loved good popcorn, but making it killed him. The poison that destroyed his lungs was in the heated vapors of butter flavoring he used to produce tons of America's favorite snack for his century-old bar and customers as far as two states away.

April 23, 2006

Sleuths hot on the trail of a disease, its cause

The knowledge that dozens of workers exposed to butter flavoring at popcorn plants in six states were falling ill wasn't enough for the federal scientists who investigate occupational health diseases.

April 23, 2006

Timeline: Reports and response to health concerns from flavoring

August 2000 - NIOSH is called to Missouri popcorn plant to investigate workers' lung disease.

June 3, 2006

A Sun follow-up

Flavoring perils get harder look

A federal health agency says it is "greatly expanding" an investigation of the potential hazards of diacetyl and other flavoring chemicals that have been linked to nearly 200 cases of lung disease among factory workers who make or use the chemicals.

July 26, 2006

A Sun follow-up

Federal measures sought to combat flavoring peril

Two large unions and dozens of leaders in public and occupational health are petitioning the federal government to use its emergency powers to control worker exposure to a chemical in butter flavoring that has sickened hundreds across the country.

August 3, 2006

Sun follow-up

House members fault agency for inaction on flavoring peril

Three members of Congress have joined an outcry for federal regulators to protect workers from lung damage caused by a chemical contained in synthetic butter flavoring.

August 30, 2006

Sun follow-up

Potential hazards to consumers from flavoring agent unchecked

Millions of Americans are exposed regularly to vapors released when they heat products containing the same synthetic butter flavoring blamed for destroying the lungs of workers in popcorn and flavoring factories. But public health activists say no one in government has stepped up to assess whether consumers are at risk.

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