KENYA – The Ministry for Mining, Blue Economy, and Maritime Affairs has issued a warning that fish caught from Lake Nakuru is unsuitable for human consumption.
Recent tests on the fish have indicated elevated levels of arsenic, a toxic chemical compound found in many minerals.
Arsenic exposure through water and food consumption can lead to severe health issues, including cancer, skin lesions, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
Cabinet Secretary for Mining, Blue Economy, and Maritime Affairs, Salim Mvurya, emphasized that recent findings have demonstrated a significant 32 percent level of arsenic in fish from Lake Nakuru, prompting immediate action.
A multi-agency team, comprising departments of fisheries, blue economy, and environment, has been formed to investigate the matter and address the environmental and health concerns associated with the lake’s fish.
This revelation aligns with previous research conducted by the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KEMFRI) in 2021, which detected dangerous chemicals in the lake’s fish, leading to a ban on fishing activities.
The study identified alarming levels of toxic substances, including Chromium exceeding permissible limits set by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Pollution and anoxic conditions
Lake Nakuru faces an environmental crisis with 65 percent of untreated human waste entering the lake, contributing to pollution. Inadequate management of solid waste, stormwater, and drainage further exacerbates the situation.
The lake has become completely anoxic, with severely depleted oxygen levels, rendering it unsupportive of life, particularly in its mid-lake region and depths below one meter from the surface.
The 2021 study revealed the presence of various heavy metals in the lake, including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, nickel, mercury, selenium, cobalt, copper, and zinc. The accumulation of these metals is attributed to unregulated discharges and the unique characteristics of Lake Nakuru, such as its alkaline nature and lack of an outlet.
Last year’s research led by Mary Florence Nantongo, Joseph Edebe, Elick Otachi, and Julius Kipkemboi, confirmed the presence of selected organochlorine pesticide (OCP) residues in water, sediments, and Nile tilapia.