NIOSH Research Shows Coffee Workers May Be at Risk for Lung Disease

Lung disease may develop for those working in coffee processing facilities.

New NIOSH research indicates that workers at coffee processing facilities may be at risk for lung disease caused by exposure to diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione, compounds produced when coffee beans are roasted.

Recently, researchers diagnosed obliterative bronchiolitis in five employees who had worked at a coffee processing facility. NIOSH found elevated levels of the compounds in the air of a facility where the five individuals had worked. A web page has been developed since, offering interim recommendations for coffee processing facilities. Rachel L. Bailey, DO, MPH; Ryan F. LeBouf, Ph.D., CIH; and Kristin J. Cummings, M.D., discussed their findings in a post on a NIOSH blog. Bailey is a medical officer in the NIOSH Respiratory Health Division and LeBouf is a research industrial hygienist in the NIOSH Respiratory Health Division. Cumming is the chief of the Field Studies Branch in the NIOSH Respiratory Health Division.

Raquel Rutledge, a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, recently produced a series of reports for the newspaper about the diacetyl dangers facing coffee workers. Rutledge (414-224-2778, raquel.rutledge@jrn.com) completed her "Gasping for Action" series as part of a nine-month O'Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism through the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University.

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