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Coffee roasters suffer lung and respiratory illness

Before it makes it to your grocery store or home, coffee beans have to be roasted, and according to USA Today and CNN, this roasting process causes factory workers cramping of lungs and other respiratory illnesses. The research the CDC is doing is being done in coffee factories all over the world.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that workers in these roasters had been wheezing and coughing, and some were even coughing up blood. They may even develop lung disease later in their lives. Workers also experienced sinus and other symptoms, which could be caused by green coffee dust, chaff, and roasted coffee dust. This is only occurring to those who work in the factories, not those who are grinding and brewing their own coffee at home.

The flavorings added to the coffee could be partly to blame. The flavorings, according to USA Today, contain two volatile compounds, including diacetyl, which was also a cause of many deaths related to microwave popcorn in the early 2000’s. It is used to create a buttery flavor in many foods, beverages, and even flavored coffee. According to CNN, the National Institutes of Safety and Health says that “No workers may not be exposed to more than 5 parts per billion of diacetyl during an 8 hour work day.”

The CDC recommends that when workers clean up the shells from the coffee beans, they should use a vacuum, not a broom. The sweeping motion caused by the broom makes more dust particles to become air-bound, causing the particles to be breathed in by the workers.

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