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Spilt oil was contaminated, health officer warns

Nairobi residents who scooped oil on Mombasa Road last week could suffer terrible consequences upon consumption.

The Ministry of Health has warned them against consumption of the liquid oil that hundreds scooped after a tanker overturned along Mombasa Road late last week.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kepha Ombacho said consumption of the oil could lead to long-term health effects because it could have been contaminated.

“People assumed it was edible oil yet it had not been established that indeed it was safe for consumption. I even do not think it was refined,” said Dr Ombacho.

They could also have exposed themselves to effects of lead, “The oil poured on a busy road. There is high possibility that it could have mixed with petrol,” he said.

Petrol has lead as one of its components and the chemical,  in the body, could cause poisoning of the nervous system and renal dysfunction. Its effects are irreversible and could be fatal, he explained.

Further, the oil poured in not-so-hygienic places, “Where the tanker fell could have been an open defecation area or there could have been sewer water flowing. Consumption of such  oil poses serious health implications,” said Dr Ombacho.

He fears that the oil could be mixed with other harmful ingredients, find its way into the market and harm more people, he said.

All hell broke loose on Thursday after the tanker overturned near General Motors. Hundreds of people armed with jerricans and all manner of containers, mostly from the nearby Mukuru Slums caused chaos on the road as they collected the spilt commodity.

They did not care about contamination. Numerous wore boots while others plunged their bare feet in the oil which had collected in a trench along the road as they competed for it.