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HSE Releases Safety Alert for Diacetyl Vapor

The Health and Safety Executive released a safety alert for diacetyl vapor, a by-product of coffee roasting that is often used as an additive in food products or a flavoring due to its strong buttery taste.

Heating diacetyl above certain temperatures significantly increases airborne concentrations and the potential for exposures above safe workplace limits. HSE Releases Safety Alert for Diacetyl Vapor

Health Risks Associated with Diacetyl HSE Releases Safety Alert for Diacetyl Vapor

Diacetyl vapors have been linked to Bronchiolitis Obliterans, a rare but incapacitating lung disease characterized by swelling, inflammation and permanent scarring and narrowing of the airways. Airborne concentrations and potential exposures above safe workplace limits are significantly increased if the flavor mixtures containing diacetyl, even at low concentrations (below 5%), are heated, added to hot processes or spray-dried.

Who is At-Risk

Diacetyl poses a risk to those working in the food and beverage industry. Risk of exposure can occur during:

opening of diacetyl or flavoring containers

decanting and weighing


spray drying to produce powdered mixtures

packaging HSE Releases Safety Alert for Diacetyl Vapor

cleaning of vessels or spillages.

As part of the HSE Action Required steps, substituting diacetyl for a safer, alternative product is advised.

Exposure Limits & Solutions HSE Releases Safety Alert for Diacetyl Vapor

WELs for diacetyl is at 20 parts per billion (ppb) or 0.02 parts per million (ppm) over an 8-hr time-weighted average (TWA), and 100 ppb or 0.10 ppm over a 15-min TWA period.

Suppliers’ safety data sheets for diacetyl or for mixtures containing diacetyl should list these WELs. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 (as amended) require employers to ensure work-related exposure is assessed, prevented or adequately controlled so that it is below the WELs.

Due to its low exposure limit, ION Science would recommend the Tiger XT with PPB sensitivity and a 10.6 eV lamp. The Tiger XT has a minimum sensitivity of 1 ppb and can detect 2,3 butanedione with a measured response factor of 0.86.

ION Science is a leading gas detection and prevention company offering a variety of fixed, portable and personal solutions across a vast amount of applications. To find out more about products offered by ION Science for gas and leak detection, view our products page. For more information about diacetyl vapor monitoring specific to your application or if you have a question for us, contact ION Science today.


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