Ethylene Oxide Sparks Global Health Concerns, Know The Chemical
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The discovery of ethylene oxide in MDH and Everest spices is a major challenge for the culinary world. These cancer-causing chemicals have been found in masalas, which Singapore and Hong Kong banned. Spices add flavour and medicine, but ethylene oxide is harmful. This has sparked a heated debate about the safety of these kitchen staples, emphasising the need to understand this toxic compound's risks better.

What is Ethylene Oxide?

Ethylene oxide, an odourless, combustible gas, is primarily utilised in the spice industry for reducing microbial contamination. This chemical functions as both a disinfectant and a pesticide, according to a 2023 study by Yanjia Li. Despite its naturally occurring presence in wet environments such as manure and soil, the synthetic utilisation of ethylene oxide in food processing has generated considerable controversy on account of its carcinogenic characteristics.

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Above 10.7 degrees Celsius, ethylene oxide remains a gaseous state, rendering it flammable and susceptible to inhalation, according to the Spices Board, which is subordinate to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Potential Health Risks Of Ethylene Oxide

Ethylene oxide exposure can cause acute irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory system. Symptoms may include eye redness, skin rashes, and respiratory difficulties, which vary based on exposure duration and concentration. Further health risks of Ethylene Oxide include,

Carcinogenic Risks

As studies state, more alarmingly, ethylene oxide is recognized as a human carcinogen. It is linked to an increased risk of cancers such as lymphoma, leukemia, and breast cancer due to its ability to damage DNA and disrupt normal cell functions.

May Weaken Immunity

According to studies, apart from its carcinogenic potential, ethylene oxide can damage organs like the kidneys, heart, and lungs, and contribute to chronic health problems. Prolonged exposure can also weaken the immune system, leaving individuals more susceptible to various infections.

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May Have Further Reproductive and Neurological Issues

Long-term exposure to ethylene oxide may also result in neurological complications, including peripheral neuropathy, a condition characterised by nerve damage-induced numbness and pain. Moreover, it presents substantial hazards to reproductive well-being, possibly culminating in malformations and infertility.

Ethylene oxide in MDH and Everest spices has highlighted the immediate need for rigorous safety protocols in the spice industry. As these spices are integral to global cuisines and possess beneficial properties, ensuring their safety is crucial for public health.