Man Gets Scary 'Popcorn Lung' Disease From Eating Too Much Microwave Popcorn

popcornSo, today's food horror story has a somewhat happy ending! Denver resident Wayne Watson, who used to eat two bags of popcorn a day, just won $7.2 million in a lawsuit, because he suffered respiratory damage from inadvertently inhaling excessive amounts of microwave popcorn's artificial butter smell. He was diagnosed with "microwave popcorn lung," also known as bronchiolitis obliterans. Yes, it's totally legit and can be very serious, causing sufferers to have difficulty exhaling. When severe, the condition can be fatal, and in some cases, only a lung transplant will save a patient's life. Grrreat.

Though the disease was first reported among factory workers, Watson is the first non-worker to experience symptoms. Eating two bags of popcorn a day could have put him at a similar level of exposure to buttery fumes containing diacetyl, a chemical that can damage the lungs. And when's the last time you saw a warning about that?!


Nonetheless, Kroger grocery stores and Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. -- two parties involved in the lawsuit -- were both pretty incredulous that Watson was coming after them for this. A lawyer for Kroger even told Denver’s CBS4 that he “might as well have warned that there are aliens popping out of the bags because there’s just as much support for that.” Ouch. And Gilster-Mary Lee Corp. said they are "certainly very disappointed by the decision of the jury in this case in light of the very clear evidence which was presented, including the millions of consumers who have safely used and enjoyed microwave popcorn since it was introduced."

More from The Stir: Microwave Popcorn’s Butter Flavor May Make You Lose Your Mind

But the fact remains that diacetyl has likely led to scores of factory workers -- and now, according to this lawsuit, a former popcorn fan -- developing a severe lung condition. So it seems like it's about time food companies start thinking twice before using toxins that can lead to scary -- albeit seemingly "alien" -- health concerns.

How crazy is this?!

Image via Vegan Feast Catering/Flickr

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