Obliterative bronchiolitis in workers in a coffee-processing facility - Texas, 2008-2012

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2013 Apr 26;62(16):305-7.


Obliterative bronchiolitis, a rare, irreversible form of fixed obstructive lung disease, has been identified in workers exposed to flavoring chemicals while working in the microwave-popcorn and flavoring-manufacturing industries; the occupational risk to workers outside these industries is largely unknown. This report describes two cases of obliterative bronchiolitis identified in workers employed in a small coffee-processing facility. Both patients' illness was misdiagnosed before they received a diagnosis of work-related obliterative bronchiolitis, which had not been identified previously in the coffee-processing industry. These cases reinforce the need for exposure evaluation in all industries in which workers are exposed to flavoring chemicals. Additionally, a high index of suspicion is required when these potentially exposed workers have progressive shortness of breath. If obliterative bronchiolitis is suspected, immediate protection from further exposure is crucial to prevent further deterioration of lung function.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bronchiolitis Obliterans / chemically induced*
  • Bronchiolitis Obliterans / diagnosis
  • Coffee*
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Female
  • Flavoring Agents / toxicity*
  • Food-Processing Industry*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Texas


  • Coffee
  • Flavoring Agents