Illnesses Related to Grinding and Roasting Coffee

Illnesses Related to Grinding and Roasting Coffee


Illnesses Related to Grinding and Roasting
Coffee By www.BuyOrganicCoffee.org If you grind and roast coffee in commercial
quantities you may be at risk of respiratory diseases. Illnesses related to grinding and
roasting coffee are asthma and obliterative bronchiolitis. It has long been known that
coffee related asthma comes from coffee dust and occasionally from contaminants such as
castor bean dust. More recently scientists have discovered that a disabling lung disease,
bronchiolitis obliterans is caused by exposure to chemicals produced when coffee is roasted
and ground. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provides information
regarding lung diseases related to grinding and roasting coffee on its web site. Occupational asthma was thought to be the
main respiratory risk for workers in coffee processing facilities. Previous studies identified
green and roasted coffee bean dusts and castor bean dusts from contaminated shipping bags.
Asthmagens are substances that can cause asthma. In 2013, a severe lung disease called obliterative
bronchiolitis was reported in former workers of a coffee processing facility that roasted,
ground, and flavored coffee. Obliterative bronchiolitis is a severe, non-reversible
lung disease that involves scarring of the very small airways called bronchioles in a
patchy distribution throughout the lung. Symptoms may include cough, shortness of breath on
exertion, and/or wheeze. The chemicals created when roasting coffee
which in turn cause bronchiolitis obliterans are diacetyl 2,3-butanedione and 3-Pentanedione.
These chemicals are used as flavoring agents in other foods such as microwave popcorn and
are known causes of lung disease. In the case of coffee the chemicals are created when coffee
is roasted. When roasted coffee is ground the total surface area of the coffee is hugely
increased allowing the release of substantially more of these chemicals to the surrounding
air. If you are roasting and grinding coffee at home this is not an issue because the amounts
are so tiny. However, if you are roasting and grinding coffee in a commercial setting
you may be at risk for developing irreversible lung disease characterized by a chronic cough
and shortness of breath. Air Sampling to Prevent Illnesses Related
to Grinding and Roasting Coffee The only way to know if you or your workers
are at risk of illnesses related to grinding and roasting coffee is to sample the air in
the work place. NIOSH suggests that if you suspect a problem that workers wear respirators
until the air is checked. If air levels of these chemicals are too high workplace ventilation
must be improved and the air retested until levels are at a safe level before workers
remove their masks. If elevated levels of diacetyl (2,3-butanedione)
or 2,3-pentanedione are detected in workplace air, interventions should be put in place
to reduce the levels. The effectiveness of these interventions should be verified by
follow-up air sampling. Serial air sampling for diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione can help
evaluate the impact of interventions on exposures and identify where to prioritize any future
interventions. In 2015, NIOSH published a best practices document that describes work
interventions such as engineering controls, work practices, and exposure monitoring for
occupational exposures to diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione (NIOSH 2015). For more information about high quality and
organic coffee, visit www.BuyOrganicCoffee.org.

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