Microwave popcorn is a part of most of our lives with Americans purchasing over 1 billion pounds of un-popped corn per year. A study conducted by The Environmental Protection Agency showed that in microwave popcorn contains diacetyl, a chemical linked to debilitating and sometimes fatal lung disease in chronic microwave popcorn consumers as well as workers who operate in plants where the chemical is added to popcorn.

The person diagnosed with diacetyl lung damage, also known as popcorn lung was a popcorn fanatic who has been eating 2 bags of artificial butter flavored popcorn per day for years when he started noticing breathing problems.

The lung condition in question is called bronchiolitis obliterans. It is an inflammatory reaction to diacetyl that can reduce lung capacity by as much as 80%. Certain people who inhale too much of the chemical form scar tissue as a reaction, making the lungs stiff and causing cough and shortness of breath.

The biggest ptoblem with the disease is that once the scarring occurs, there is no going back. The lungs cannot return to their original state of heath and the only known treatment for popcorn lung is a lung transplant.

Luckily, not everyone exposed to the chemical will respond to diacetyl by forming scar tissue. But are you ready to take that chance? Further more, it takes years of prolonged and high exposure to diacetyl to be at risk for popcorn lung. So, if you are not a microwave popcorn freak and consume it occasionally, you are probably safe but if you did eat a lot of microwave popcorn in the last couple of years and are experiencing breathing problems, make sure you report this to your doctor.

ConAgra, the parent company for Orville Redenbacher and Act II, has agreed to immediately remove this chemical from its artificial butter flavored popcorn.