Four Nairobi children admitted over toxic gas

Pungent emissions cause coughing, vomiting

In Summary

•Resident says emissions started two weeks ago; cases of respiratory diseases have increased

•South B MCA gives Nema 14 days to prepare report on location of companies or she will petition for its disbandment

South B MCA Waithera Chege
DEMANDING ACTION: South B MCA Waithera Chege

Toxic gas emitted from factories in Nairobi's South B estate is causing respiratory illnesses among residents.

Four children have been admitted to different hospitals in the city with chest problems.

Parents say the pungent gas is similar to the smell of burning tyres or teargas and it irritates the nose and throat.

A mother said her one-year-old daughter coughed and vomited after inhaling the gases at 3am. 

“At first, I thought she had developed asthma but when I later inhaled the gas I also started coughing,” she said.

“Many children have been coughing, vomiting and nose bleeding."

Another resident said the factories emit the poisonous gases at night and that since the emissions started two weeks ago, cases of respiratory ailments have increased.

“We just want to know what it [the gas] is and which factory is emitting it. On Saturday, the emissions started from 4pm and intensified in the night. We woke up choking,” the mother of two said. 

Nairobi county assembly majority whip and South B MCA Waithera Chege visited the area last week. 

She gave Nema 14 days to prepare a full report showing the location of the companies and full disclosure of the owners, failure to which she would petition for the disbandment of the agency.

“We will not allow companies to make money at the expense of citizens’ health. This is a public health issue that can lead to respiratory complications,” Chege said.

However, a team sent by the Environment and Natural Resources committee on Wednesday did an audit and were satisfied with the mitigation of environmental impact by the companies.

The team, in collaboration with other stakeholders, agreed undertake continuous monitoring.

The industries shall also be constantly compelled to conduct air quality assessments.

As an immediate remedy, the county is working with regulators, among them Nema, to improve air quality, share data and effectively handle complaints when raised.

The team also agreed to take appropriate measures as guided by law on the companies found to be causing pollution.