Is Microwave Popcorn Making Workers Sick?
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Ortiz kept working until one day in December 2005 when she felt, she said, "I put all my strength into the job and I can't do no more."...
"Before, I used to do a lot of exercise. I ran from place to place," she said, her sentences broken into panting phrases as if she were hiking a steep hill. Now, she does not like to be in public because long, body-shaking coughing fits could overcome her at any time. ...
The loss of her $17-an-hour job makes keeping up with house payments difficult, said Ortiz's husband, Victor Mancia.
They are waiting for a lung transplant. "I was perfectly fine when I started," Ortiz said. "I want to be the same. But my doctor says I'm not going to be the same."
While the regulatory process on the federal level has stagnated, California has moved ahead by issuing a rule on occupational flavoring exposures.
Dr. Celeste Monforton, a professor at the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health at George Washington University, says the latest research on the popcorn-Alzheimer's connection is not likely to spur further federal action on popcorn flavoring, as regulators are already focused (though still largely inactive) on the larger epidemiological studies on respiratory effects due to workplace exposures. But Monforton, who has worked with scientific colleagues to press for stronger regulation of DA, sees the results as further proof of how industrial chemicals shape people’s health in ways that researchers have only begun to explore.
“We have this regulatory system, or market system, that basically says, ‘We can expose people to whatever the hell we want, and then, if we find out something’s bad about it, some smart researchers out there will figure out what it’s going to do to you,’” Monforton says.
The diacetyl dilemma, she adds, “is probably one of the worst-best examples of how screwed up our worker protection system is.”