Coffee roasters and workers are at risk of an incurable lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans, also known as “Coffee Lung,” from toxic chemicals released into the air during roasting and grinding. Those same chemicals are also found in flavoring additives used in many brands of coffee.
Need a Texas Coffee Lung Lawyer? Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged. If you or a loved one is a coffee worker or roaster with lung disease, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit.
Diacetyl in Coffee Roasting
A chemical called diacetyl is released naturally during coffee roasting and grinding. Diacetyl is also made synthetically as a buttery or creamy flavoring in microwave popcorn, e-cigarettes, and flavored coffee.
Coffee Lung Disease
Drinking coffee poses no risk. Neither do green coffee beans. However, when a raw bean is roasted at 430ºF, a chemical reaction occurs between the beans’ sugars and amino acids, creating tiny amounts of a toxic compound called diacetyl. Eating diacetyl is safe, but breathing it is known to cause bronchiolitis obliterans — nicknamed “Popcorn Lung” in the early 2000s after hundreds of workers at microwave popcorn factories were sickened, including five who died.
CDC: Coffee Workers at Risk of Lung Disease
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) visited coffee processing facilities and saw employees displaying respiratory symptoms consistent with undiagnosed lung disease. The agency is evaluating the risk and warns that high levels of diacetyl have been detected in several areas of coffee processing, such as:
- Adding flavoring chemicals to roasted coffee beans
- Grinding and packaging unflavored roasted coffee
- Storing roasting coffee in hoppers to off-gas
Texas Coffee Lung Lawsuit Settlement
In 2012, five coffee workers in Tyler, Texas were diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans, including one person who was placed on a waiting list for a lung transplant. They blamed their illnesses on diacetyl in hazelnut-flavored coffee, and settled a lawsuit with the flavor manufacturer in October 2014.
Unflavored Coffee Also Poses Risks
Non-flavored coffee may also pose hazards to workers who roast and grind beans. Investigators with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tested the air in two Wisconsin coffee roasters. In some areas, diacetyl levels from unflavored coffee were 4X the “safe” limit set by the CDC — similar to the levels of diacetyl in popcorn factories where workers developed “Popcorn Lung.”
Symptoms of Coffee Lung Disease
Bronchiolitis obliterans is an incurable lung disease that causes inflammation and scarring in the bronchioles, which makes it hard to breathe. Symptoms can occur gradually or suddenly, and may include:
- Persistent dry coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Obstructive airway disease
What is Bronchiolitis Obliterans?
The windpipe divides in two and then keeps branching two by two until eventually you get down to the last few branches. Those tiny passageways right before you get to the air sacs are called bronchioles. Bronchiolitis obliterans causes scarring (“fibrosis”) in the bronchioles. They become permanently narrower or “obliterated,” resulting in permanent airflow obstruction. The disease can be deadly and many patients require a lung transplant.
Coffee Lung Disease is Commonly Misdiagnosed
Asthma is another disease of the bronchioles, but it is much more common. Many people with bronchiolitis obliterans are misdiagnosed as having asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Symptoms are often mistakenly blamed on cigarette smoking.
Need a Coffee Lung Lawyer in Texas?
Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged.
Collen’s amazing success in the courtroom and well known dedication to his clients has earned him the recognition of his peers as one of The Top Trial Lawyers in Texas.”
The Clark Firm has assembled a team of trial lawyers with more than 100 years experience, participation in over 600 jury trials and $260 million in verdicts and/or settlements. Please use the form below to contact our Texas coffee lung lawyers for a free lawsuit review.