Feds to tackle rules for butter chemical

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Feds to tackle rules for butter chemical

The Columbus Dispatch – Before she got sick, Cynthia White-Rhoads never had missed a day of work. Now, doctors say the 46-year-old woman has the lung function of someone twice her age.

Rocky Kline was in peak physical condition. Now, even simple tasks leave him gasping.

Dalea and Ed Hawkins loved to go camping on weekends. Now, they can't muster the energy to load up the car.

"We really don't do anything — just stay home," Mrs. Hawkins said.

All four are unable to work. All have bronchiolitis obliterans, a rare, irreversible lung disease they attribute to jobs they used to hold at the ConAgra Foods plant in Marion. All were exposed to diacetyl, a chemical the company formerly used in the production of butter-flavored microwave popcorn.

They're among hundreds of one-time popcorn workers nationwide who've reached settlements with former employers. Hundreds of others have taken their cases to trial, resulting in judgments totaling more than $100 million, said Kenneth B. McClain, a Missouri-based lawyer who has represented scores of plaintiffs.

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