The chemical widely used for artificially ripening fruits is calcium carbide (CaC2) which contains contaminents such as arsenic and phosphorus, both of which can prove fatal for human beings. By itself, calcium carbide is a known carcinogen – an agent having the ability to alter human cells into cancerous cells. In addition, Calcium carbide is a dangerous and corrosive chemical compound, causing various side effects on human health. At low concentrations, the chemical is also harmful to aquatic life.

Calcium carbide (CaC 2 ) is a colorless chemical compound when pure, but most samples have a color ranging from black to grayish-white.

Fruits and vegetables are highly nutritious and are a key food group for human consumption. Unfortunately, they are highly perishable due to their low shelf life. To protect against short shelf lives, these food commodities are reported to be contaminated with toxic and health hazardous chemicals. Chemicals like calcium carbide, ethephon, and oxytocin are reportedly being used on fruit and vegetable  farms for artificial ripening, increasing the size of fruits and vegetables respectively. The use of calcium carbide is being discouraged worldwide, due to associated health hazards. Calcium carbide treatment of food is extremely hazardous because it contains trace amounts of contaminents such as arsenic and phosphorous, and once dissolved in water, it produces acetylene gas. Human exposure to chemicals at toxic levels are known or suspected to be involved in causing cancer, cardiovascular disease, kidney and liver dysfunction, hormonal imbalance, and many more diseases and disorders. In addition, nutrition imbalances in key vitamins and minerals also contribute to many of these diseases and disorders.( Dr Nilesh S Amritkar, MD, Envirocare Labs)

Treatment with calcium garbide is an unhealthy practice, and is lawfully banned for artificial rippening on fruits such as mangos. When used on mangoes, the chemical decreses the moisture in the fruit. The arsenic and phosphorous gases that are released by calcium carbide powder turns the outer skin of the mango yellow and ripens the fruit only to certain extent. The artificially ripened fruits through this process only looks healthy, but the pulp is not fully ripened. The hazardous calcium carbide chemical is used in other applications, such as steelmaking and welding, and is said to be carcinogenic. The fruit traders are using this chemical to make money faster, to avoid the  8-15 days needed for natural ripening of mangoes. —Shashikant Kekare, Joint Commissioner, Food & Drug Administration (Pune).

COPYRIGHT: This article is property of We Speak Science, a nonprofit institution co-founded by Dr. Detina Zalli (Harvard University) and Dr. Argita Zalli (Imperial College London). The article is written by Dalina Perzefi( Bachelor of  Biological Science, Università Politecnica delle Marche).