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What is Popcorn Lung?

By Butler Prather LLP on August 16, 2021

One term that has popped up regularly over the last few years is called “popcorn lung.” This is the nickname for bronchitis obliterans, which is a condition where are the smallest air passages in our lungs sustain damage that makes us cough and feel short of breath. This condition can be caused by breathing in the same chemical that is used to flavor microwave popcorn (hence the name popcorn lung) but can also be caused by other lung illnesses or chemicals. Here, we want to delve more in-depth into how a person can sustain popcorn lung and look at whether or not individuals who contract this condition may be able to recover compensation.

Understanding the Causes of Popcorn Lung

Harkening back to the original cause of popcorn lung, we can see that the American Lung Association (ALA) says that this type of injury can be caused by diacetyl’s butter flavoring, which used to be used to make microwave popcorn.

When consumers inhale this chemical, it can cause scarring in the air sacs inside the lungs. This can result in a thickening or narrowing of the air pathways inside of the lungs, according to the ALA. Some of the most common symptoms associated with popcorn lung include shortness of breath, dry cough, fatigue, and wheezing.

Popcorn lung caused by diacetyl was linked to thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths across the US before it was removed from most consumer products. Unfortunately, there is no known treatment for popcorn lung. The symptoms of popcorn lung can be managed through immunosuppressive prescription medications and antibiotics, though a lung transplant may be needed for severe cases of this disease.

Linking Vaping and Popcorn Lung

Popcorn lung sprung back into the news as individuals became sick beauty using various types of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices. A study in Environmental Health Perspectives says that diacetyl has been a common ingredient in vaping juices used in these products. The report, first published in 2016, tested dozens of flavored e-cigarettes and vape liquids and found the chemical in 39 of them.

The study also indicated that there were two other chemicals present inside of more than half of the electronic cigarettes that they tested that were just as harmful as diacetyl and caused the same effects.

Emergency room visits related to e-cigarettes or vaping products rose sharply in late 2019. According to the CDC, the outbreak led to medical professionals labeling the illness as e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI).

Securing Compensation for Popcorn Lung

If you or somebody you care about has developed popcorn lung as a result of e-cigarette usage or any other type of product sold on the market, you need to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Companies have a responsibility to consumers. This responsibility extends to warning consumers about all known dangers associated with using their products. Popcorn lung is a serious problem that, in reality, should no longer be a problem in the United States. However, companies continue to use harmful chemicals in their products that can lead to major lung illnesses. If you or a loved one have developed popcorn lung, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering damages, loss of quality of life damages, and more.

Posted in: Personal Injury

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