OSHA and proposed diacetyl limits in the workplace—What effects can we expect on the brewing industry?

Nutrition/Health Session

ABSTRACT: Two years ago, OSHA, in conjunction with NIOSH and CDC, invited members of industries that handle or produce diacetyl during their production processes to gather together and attempt to define a reasonable safe exposure limit for workers exposed to the chemical in the workplace. This was in reaction to the “popcorn lung” that was detected among workers in the snack food and baking industries. A few died, and many were disabled. The disease was attributed to diacetyl exposure. After the meetings, the consensus seemed to be that the limit should be somewhere around 1 ppm/day of exposure. This seemed to exempt the brewing industry from concern since we have not found diacetyl content in brewing products above 200 ppb. OSHA recently published a proposed action limit of 5 ppb, which caught all participants by surprise. While the brewing industry, at least at first, would not be a “target industry,” we must be concerned and attempt to have these limits reviewed. We will discuss the reasons for concerns.

David Radzanowski began his brewing career in 1962, joining the Duquesne Brewing Company of Pittsburgh, PA, after studying chemical engineering at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University). After graduating with the 1970 Siebel Institute Diploma Class, David was named the associate supervising master brewer, sharing production responsibilities with the vice president of production. With the closing of the Duquesne brewery, David joined the Joseph Huber Brewing Company of Monroe, WI, in 1973 as director of QC and assistant master brewer, eventually becoming master brewer and vice president of production. In 1992, David joined the Siebel Institute of Technology as vice president of educational services, becoming president of the institute in 1998, serving until 2000. In 2000, David and his colleagues joined Alltech Inc., resulting in the formation of the Alltech Institute of Brewing and Distilling (AIBD) in conjunction with Herriot-Watt University. With Alltech, David had a dual role as technical manager for Asia-Pacific, covering brewing, ethanol production, and distilling, and as administrator of educational services of AIBD. He is now president of Radzan Associates, offering services to the brewing, distilling, and ethanol industries.