Roasters are being advised to carefully follow advice issued by the Centers for Disease Control in order to prevent possible health issues associated with the chemical diacetyl
A number of coffee roasters investigated by the US Centers for Disease Control have been found to have high levels of the chemical diacetyl and other potentially harmful compounds.
Scientists at the CDC have been studying levels of diacetyl in coffee facilities in the US for the last two years. Their findings suggest that at several facilities workers were exposed to levels of chemicals that were 4-5 times higher than recommended levels. Exposure to high levels of diacetyl has been associated with lung disease.
CDC has released a number of reports from roasting facilities and is due to release more in the coming months. It is said to be aggregating data from 20 facilities and more than 450 workers.
CDC does not act as an enforcement agency but makes recommendations to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA).
Exposure limits exceeded at several facilities
One of the reports from the CDC said: “We evaluated respiratory health and airborne exposures to alpha-diketones (diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione, and 2,3-hexanedione), other volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide during coffee roasting, flavouring, grinding, and packaging.
“All four of the personal full-shift samples collected in the production area exceeded the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommended exposure limit for diacetyl of 5 parts per billion. One of the four personal full-shift samples collected in the production area exceeded the NIOSH recommended exposure limit for 2,3-pentanedione of 9.3 parts per billion.
“In addition, air sampling during short-term tasks identified several tasks (flavouring roasted coffee beans and grinding flavoured and unflavoured coffee) with higher exposures to alphadiketones, including diacetyl, than other tasks. Air concentrations of diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione increased over the course of the work shift.” ■ C&CI Read more
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