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10 coffee-roasting operations found to have elevated levels of dangerous chemicals in air, sickly workers


The number of coffee houses sprouting up everywhere has been on the rise these last few years. That’s proof of how popular coffee is in America. It has been one of the most popular drinks in the world for decades. It is a stimulating drink, thanks to its caffeine made from roasted coffee beans.

However, the U.S. Centers for Prevention have sent a group of doctors and scientists to these coffee shops these last couple of years. And no, they weren’t sampling the great coffee the coffee shops have to offer, but rather, their aim was to protect the health of the workers whose number is growing rapidly. These coffee houses have created job opportunities for many people as roasters, grinders, and packagers.

Despite the coffee industry being worth billions of dollars, the working environment poses a serious health issue.  Workers are exposed to hazardous airborne chemicals day in and day out. The doctors and scientists gave the workers various tests to assess their health, but mainly focused on breathing tests because of the exposure to dangerous airborne chemicals. Their report stated that these dangerous airborne chemicals were hazardous, and they were indeed jeopardizing the workers’ health.

In this recent study, investigators came up with a list of few coffee roasting operations that are elevating the dangers of chemicals in the air, such as the use of a roaster. The roaster has been the main source of the dangerous airborne emissions including alcohols, organic acids, nitrogen and sulfur compounds, and aldehydes. Workers had been exceeding the recommended eight working hours, meaning the inhalation of the gaseous pollutant is increased.

According to Wikipedia, the decaffeination process, the extraction of instant coffee, and the drying operation could also be sources of small amounts of volatile organic compounds. There are chemicals naturally formed during the coffee roasting process. These chemicals are Diacetyl and 2, 3 pentanedione which are usually emitted into the air and inhaled by employees. This leads to the workers developing a disease called bronchiolitis, a fatal disease which affects the lungs.

Exposure to high levels of these chemicals, exceeding the federal recommendation leads to the development of asthma, and also causes nose irritation. Also, coffee-roasting utilizes some of the same flavorings that were closely connected to the formation of lung disease in a significant number of microwave popcorn workers in the early 2000’s. Workers were exposed to more than four or five times the recommended level of diacetyl, a very dangerous compound, which quickly destroys the lungs.

The CDC has announced that it will release nine more reports in the next few months on dangerous coffee roasting operations.


Doctors recommend that these facilities should notify their workers prior, about the dangers involved during the grinding process. The workers should also be encouraged to take frequent samplings during the roasting and grinding operations, just to make sure that concentrations are way below the air exposure limit.

The companies should also have regular air testing by an industrial hygienist to check on the levels of toxic chemicals. Also, they must ensure there’s good ventilation.

If you or a loved one has been affected by these hazardous emissions, you can reach out to us today.



Principal & Founder
This article was written by Mark Sadaka, a seasoned trial lawyer in nationally significant cases. He fearlessly champions clients impacted by fatal or severe injuries caused by others or corporations. Renowned for his expertise in complex litigation, he's featured in books, sought after by media for interviews, and a highly sought speaker. Notably, he exclusively represents individuals facing life-changing injuries or substantial financial losses.

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