• Wed, Sep 5 2007

First Public Case of Popcorn Lung


A man who ate two to three bags of microwaved extra-butter popcorn for a decade has developed popcorn lung.

Thank You For Popping?

This is not the first case. Popcorn lung, or broncheolitis obliterans, is a deadly disease that ravages lung tissue and leaves its victims dependent upon an oxygen tank to survive. It turns out that popcorn lung is prevalent among popcorn factory workers and the buttered popcorn industry has known about the problem since 2002. This man’s particular story is the first time popcorn lung has gone public.

Doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the man, but one practitioner who knew about popcorn lung decided to ask him if he had happened to be around popcorn at any point. His response: “I am popcorn.”


To be clear here, it’s not eating the butter flavoring that causes popcorn lung. It’s only inhaling the butter flavoring that is potentially dangerous. America’s favorite almost-butter contains the chemical diacetyl, which authorities remind us is totally safe for consumption. That’s good, because we all know how unhealthy real butter is. In people suffering from popcorn lung, the scarring to the lungs is so severe, a lung transplant is the only permanent solution.

The history of popcorn: from farm to factory

UPDATE: ConAgra has just announced they will be dropping diacetyl.

NOTE: B5 is having technical difficulties, so I really apologize for the suckitude interface and load times a la 1992. We’re working on it! Thanks for your patience, gang.

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  • http://let-off.com steve

    There’s a website administered by public health afficionados regarding diacetyl, among a host of other public health concerns:


    Makes me wonder about all the other chemicals we end up inhaling that can cause us harm down the road…

  • Sara

    Steve, I just updated the post with a link to the diacetyl issue. ConAgra just announced – hey, how ’bout that! – that they’ll be dropping the use of this chemical.

    Yay chemicals!

  • http://dopeylarue.blogspot.com DopeyLaRue

    I KNEW there was a reason I despised popcorn and that horrid, horrid smell so much!!!!

  • Brian

    I’m with Dopey. Can’t stand the smell. Makes me want to smack someone every time they pop a bag. It stinks up the whole office.

  • http://www.ohmz.net Omar

    I like the bare bones word press interface, the new redesigned super duper one that B5 put on it rubbish.

  • Jim

    This reminds me of the young man who covered his entire body with deodorant several times a day for several years, until too much of some metal built up in his system and he died.
    In other words, I’m not scared of popcorn or deodorant.