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Bronchiolitis obliterans, or Constrictive bronchiolitis, one form of which is called 'Popcorn Workers Lung or popcorn lung''', is a rare and life-threatening form of fixed obstructive lung disease in which the bronchioles are plugged with granulation tissue. Bronchiolitis means inflammation of the bronchioles and Obliterans refers to the fact that the inflammation of the bronchioles partially obliterates the airways. There is no consensus classification scheme for bronchiolitis subtypes. One author describes four specific subtypes as follows:
Etiology Bronchiolitis obliterans has many possible causes, including: collagen vascular disease, transplant rejection in organ transplant patients, viral infection (RSV, adenovirus, PCP, HIV, CMV), drug reaction, aspiration and complications of prematurity (bronchopulmonary dysplasia), and exposure to toxic fumes, including: diacetyl, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ammonia, chlorine, thionyl chloride, methyl isocyanate, hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen bromide, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen sulfide, phosgene, polyamide-amine dyes, and ozone. Additionally, the disorder may be idiopathic (without known cause).
Presentation Bronchiolitis obliterans is a lung disease characterized by fixed airway obstruction. Inflammation and scarring occur in the airways of the lung, resulting in severe shortness of breath and dry cough. Standard lung capacity is normally around 80% lung usage. Bronchiolitis obliterans reduces this to 16% to 21%.Symptoms include:
Diagnosis Bronchiolitis obliterans is often misdiagnosed as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, or pneumonia. Diagnosis may include the following tests:
Prognosis/treatment This disease is irreversible and severe cases often require a lung transplant. Evaluation of interventions to prevent bronchiolitis obliterans relies on early detection of abnormal spirometry results or unusual decreases in repeated measurements.
Industrial inhalants There are many industrial inhalants that are known to cause various types of bronchiolitis, including Bronchiolitis obliterans.
Industrial workers who have presented with bronchiolitis:
Popcorn Workers Lung In rare instances, bronchiolitis obliterans may be caused by inhalation of airborne diacetyl — a chemical used to produce the butter-like flavoring in many foods such as candy, microwave popcorn and wines. This first came to public attention when eight former employees of the Gilster-Mary Lee popcorn plant in Jasper, Missouri, developed bronchiolitis obliterans. In 2000, the Missouri Department of Health called in NIOSH to make a determination of the cause, and to recommend safety measures. After surveying the plant and each patient's medical history, NIOSH recommended respiratory protection for all workers in microwave popcorn production. Due to this event, bronchiolitis obliterans began to be referred to in the popular media as "Popcorn Lung" or "Popcorn Workers Lung". One heavy consumer of microwaved popcorn has been diagnosed with this disease, which is the first known case involving a consumer. On August 27, 2007, Weaver Popcorn Company of Indianapolis promised to replace the diacetyl butter flavor ingredient in Pop Weaver popcorn with another flavoring.. In September 2007, Dr. Cecile Rose, pulmonary specialist at Denver's National Jewish Medical and Research Center, warned federal agencies that consumers, not just flavoring or food factory workers, may be in danger of contracting bronchiolitis obliterans. David Michaels, of the George Washington University School of Public Health, first published Rose's warning letter on his blog. On September 4, 2007, the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers recommended reduction of diacetyl in butter-like flavorings. The next day ConAgra Foods announced that it would soon remove diacetyl from its popcorn products.
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