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National News Release: 09-227-NAT
March 16, 2009
Contact: Diana Petterson
Phone: 202-693-1898

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis takes action to prevent workers' exposure to food flavorings chemical

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today announced the withdrawal of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for occupational exposure to food flavorings containing diacetyl.

The withdrawal will facilitate the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) timely development of a standard to protect workers from bronchiolitis obliterans, a serious and potentially fatal lung disease associated with such an exposure.

"I am alarmed that workers exposed to food flavorings containing diacetyl may continue to be at risk of developing a potentially fatal lung disease. Exposure to this harmful chemical already has been linked to the deaths of three workers," said Secretary Solis. "These deaths are preventable, and it is imperative that the Labor Department move quickly to address exposure to food flavorings containing diacetyl and eliminate unnecessary steps without affecting the public's ability to comment on the rulemaking process."

Secretary Solis' interest in this issue began when she was a member of Congress and workers in her former California district developed the irreversible lung disease after being exposed to this workplace hazard. At one time, she urged OSHA to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect these workers.

Withdrawing the ANPRM facilitates the convening of a small business advocacy review panel to determine the impact a proposed rule might have on small businesses and how those impacts can be reduced, consistent with the agency's statutory requirements. This panel process is required under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act.

In keeping with President Obama's guidance to encourage public participation, collaboration and transparency in government, all