During summer, many seasonal fruits are available in our country. Mango is one of them which is liked by all including children. In fact, it is very delicious. Mangoes are produced plenty in Rajshahi division. Hundreds of trucks are carrying mangoes in different parts of the country everyday.
Trucks are loaded with green unripe mangoes but on the following day in the market, we get yellow ripe mangoes. This is possible because of the magic touch of calcium carbide, a toxic chemical used for gas welding.
The chemical used to ripen mangoes is Calcium Carbide, and is extremely hazardous to the human body as it contains traces of arsenic and phosphorous. Once dissolved in water, the carbide produces acetylene gas. Acetylene gas is an analogue of the natural ripening agent produced by fruit known as ethylene. Acetylene imitates the ethylene and quickens the ripening process.
In some cases it is only the skin that changes color, while the fruit itself remains green and raw. When the carbide is used on very raw fruit, the amount of the chemical needed to ripen the fruit has to be increased. This results in the fruit becoming even more tasteless and toxic.
Once dissolved in water carbide produces acetylene gas, which affect the neurological system by inducing prolonged hypoxia and can cause headache, dizziness, mood disturbances, sleepiness, mental confusion, memory loss, cerebral edema and seizure.
The use of artificial ripening agent may be fatal. Excessive consumption of calcium carbide laced fruit can cause intoxication. Regular use of chemical containing fruits may cause irritation of the digestive system, diarrhoea, jaundice, liver damage, multi organ failure may occur. Free radical from carbide play a major role in ageing process as well as onset of cancer, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, allergies. As carbide contains some amount of arsenic, prolonged consumption may cause arsenic poisoning.
Just for profit traders are doing this illegal job at the expense of human life !!
Authorities need to take serious action to halt this process. Only authorities can not do much alone, we are also to be aware of the situation. We need to change ourselves to change the whole scenario.
The writer is a Child specialist working at Bangladesh Heart & Chest Hospital, Dhanmondi, Dhaka.