ETHYLENE OXIDE (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     23rd April 2024        

Context: Hong Kong banned the sale of Indian spice brands MDH Pvt. and Everest Food Products Pvt. after authorities detected the presence of carcinogenic pesticide ethylene oxide in several spice mixes.

Ethylene Oxide

  • About: It is an important organic compound widely used in various industrial processes.
  • Applications: A small amount (less than 1%) is used to control insects in some stored agricultural products, and a very small amount is used in hospitals to sterilize medical equipment and supplies.
  • Health Impacts: It mainly impacts human central nervous system depression and irritation of the eyes and mucous membranes. 

oChronic exposure can cause irritation of the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs, and damage to the brain and nervous system. 

oIt's recognized as a top-level cancer-causing substance by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

  • Legal Ramifications: According to food safety laws, foods with pesticide residues can only be sold if they are safe to eat. Breaking this rule could lead to a $50,000 fine and six months in jail.
  • Long-Term Health Risks: Eating food with small amounts of ethylene oxide isn't immediately harmful, but it can cause health problems over time. Thus, it's advisable for people to avoid this substance as much as possible.

output themes