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What is popcorn lung and how can you get it from work?

On Behalf of | May 3, 2024 | Workers' Compensation |

In certain workplaces, employees face risks to their health that may not be obvious. One such danger is a condition called popcorn lung. However, what is popcorn lung?

Understanding what it is and how people can detect it is important for workers in plants and other areas.

Knowing the definition

Popcorn lung, medically named bronchiolitis obliterans, is a serious and irreversible lung disease. It gained attention when workers at a microwave popcorn plant fell ill due to a flavoring chemical that made up the buttery taste.

When inhaled, it damages the small airways in the lungs, leading to inflammation and scarring. Over time, this scarring can cause the airways to become narrow or blocked. Some people may notice the first signs of this health problem only two weeks after their initial exposure to it.

Noticing the symptoms

Recognizing the symptoms of popcorn lung is important for early diagnosis and treatment. Common symptoms include a persistent cough and shortness of breath. Some people may suffer from fevers and fatigue.

This health problem also usually leads to sudden weight loss. Individuals experiencing these symptoms may want to seek immediate medical help.

Learning about workers’ compensation

If a worker gets popcorn lung due to workplace exposure to harmful chemicals, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can provide financial assistance for medical treatment, lost wages and rehabilitation services.

Employers have a responsibility to maintain good working conditions for all their workers. Part of this responsibility includes choosing safe chemicals and providing protective gear. Those suffering from this injury may want to seek fair compensation.