The Teamsters Union announced Tuesday that it applauds the introduction of legislation that will compel OSHA to take immediate action to protect food processing workers from exposure to diacetyl, a chemical that has been linked to a form of irreversible lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans.

Diacetyl is widely used in the artificial flavoring in microwave popcorn. Lung disease has been found in dozens of food processing workers across the nation who have had prolonged exposure to diacetyl, according to the union. The disease is more commonly referred to as "popcorn lung."

"OSHA has failed to act despite the Teamsters and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union petitioning them nearly a year ago to pass an emergency temporary standard to protect these workers from further exposure to this deadly chemical," said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. "[This] legislation must be enacted as soon as possible to end the dangerous exposure to diacetyl."

Introduced by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), the legislation would require OSHA to issue an interim final standard within 90 days to minimize workers' exposure to diacetyl in popcorn and flavor manufacturing plants. Employers would be required to develop a written exposure control plan that would use engineering controls and respirators to protect workers, and to conduct medical monitoring to determine whether workers' health continued to be harmed.

The bill would require OSHA to issue a final rule within two years covering all workplaces where workers are exposed to diacetyl.