Tanzania has launched a special team of experts to work on rumors that Tanzanian farmers in northern part of the country are using uranium dust as pesticides to preserve cereals and agricultural produce…
Director General of the Tanzania Atomic Energy Commission (TAEC) Iddi Mkilaha said in Arusha on Wednesday evening that the the team involves experts from his commission and those from the Tanzania’s Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI).
TAEC is a government body that regulates safe use of nuclear energy in the country and TPRI is a state-run institute which regulates safe use of pesticides.
Mkilaha said the probe team has been established to find-out the authenticity of the spreading rumors taking into account that uranium dusts are harmful to human health.
For almost one month there are rumors that some Tanzanian farmers from northern part of the country especially Arusha and Manyara are using uranium dust as pesticides to preserve cereals.
“We have started working on this matter by the end of October, but now we decided to involve our colleagues from TPRI as we want to broaden the scope of the study not only in Arusha and Manyara regions but also in Kilimanjaro region,” he said in his statement.
According to the official, the aim of the joint team is to scientifically establish the authenticity and magnitude of the rumors to enable the two institutions to take mitigation measures accordingly.
In the earlier investigation, TAEC took random sampling of cereal and vegetables products form shops, markets and stores to determine if they were radioactively contaminated or not.
Mkilaha revealed that preliminary finding has indicated with certainty that foodstuffs from Arusha region were not preserved with uranium dust.
TAEC has appealed to the public to be patient while investigation is still going on in the two regions.
He further pledged that a detailed study report will be issued by the Commission after completion of the entire exercise this week.
The commission also refuted claims that it had issued or confirmed any information to the media that farmers in the northern part of Tanzania are using uranium dust to preserve cereals as reported recently by local and international media.
Some nuclear experts have warned on the issue saying once inhaled, uranium dust lodges in lungs and causes serious cases of cancer in both lungs and respiratory tracks and should it be consumed with the crops, the chemicals will destroy the digestive system.
According to experts, grain from farmers who coat their produce with uranium may affect even those who do not use the chemicals once they grind them together in the same mill.