Did you know that mango sap is a very acidic and can cause terrible skin burns? Mango pickers in the Northern Territory in the coming harvest season will be required to wear protective cream as part of a new recruitment program.
Top End Recruiting says the sap builds up on the skin during the picking season and that some mango pickers can be so badly affected that they can spend up to a week in hospital. In 2012, 82 pickers presented at emergency at Katherine Hospital with mango sap burns.
The sap can squirt out from the stem when the mango is pulled off the stem, reaching distances of several metres. If it hits the eyes, it creates a very painful sting. On unprotected skin, even people not normally allergic to anything will be affected by mango sap after a few days. The burns become unbearably itchy, exacerbated by the humid climate, and the skin develops a ‘mango rash’ of small blisters.
Picking machines put the picked fruit immediately through an antacid wash so those handling the fruit later aren’t likely to be affected, but if you have a mango tree at home, BEWARE! Wear long sleeves and eye protection to pick your mangoes.