How Consuming Sugar Laced With Mercury Affects Your Body

  • On Tuesday, the nation was shocked after Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang'i revealed the poisons sold to unsuspecting Kenyans thinking that it was genuine sugar.

    Samples carried out on 1,400 bags of illegal sugar seized revealed that some of the sugar contained dangerous elements such as mercury and copper.

    “It is shocking that some of this sugar has been found to contain particles of mercury and copper, which is very dangerous to our lives,” the interior CS stated.

    The elements, according to the world health organization (WHO), are dangerous if consumed by human beings and exposure even to small amounts may cause serious health problems.

    [caption caption="CS Matiang'i"][/caption]

    Elemental and methyl mercury are toxic to the central and peripheral nervous systems.

    Inhaling of mercury vapour can produce harmful effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys, and may be fatal to the victim.

    Inorganic salts found in mercury 'can eat away' the skin, eyes and gastrointestinal tract -the stomach and intestines- and may induce kidney toxicity if ingested.

    Neurological and behavioural disorders may also be observed after inhalation, ingestion or dermal exposure of different mercury compounds.

    Copper, on the other hand, is a naturally occurring element which has many practical uses in our society and is commonly found in coins, electrical wiring, and pipes.

    It is an essential element for living organisms, including humans, and in small amounts-necessary in our diet to ensure good health.

    However, too much copper can cause adverse health effects, including vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and nausea and it has also been associated with liver damage and kidney disease. 

    Questions still linger on how the contraband sugar with these harmful elements was smuggled into the country and found its way to the sugar market.

    [caption caption="Sugar consignment that was seized by government"][/caption]

    Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) refuted claims by Dr Matiang'i, maintaining that the sugar is fit for human consumption despite the government chemist stating otherwise.