10 banned substances that are still used in Kenya

By , K24 Digital
On Tue, 26 Sep, 2023 07:00 | 3 mins read
Court gavel. PHOTO/Pexel
Court gavel. PHOTO/Pexels

Despite a guarantee by the State that fresh produce exports achieve phytosanitary and safety measures to avoid rejection and repeated analysis at points of entry in recipient countries, Kenya still uses substances considered highly hazardous abroad.

This is due to their potential to cause severe environmental and human health effects, despite their worldwide ban. Below are some substances whose use may hurt Kenya’s export market.


Despite its dangers, Carbofuran is still used in various parts of the world, including Kenya. Exposure to Carbofuran can cause weakness, sweating, nausea and vomiting; abdominal pain and blurred vision. Higher levels can cause muscle twitching, loss of coordination and breathing to stop.

Repeated exposure also leads to serious reproductive problems. Banned in the U.S. and Europe, the pesticide is widely used in Asia to kill insects, mites, soil and foliar pests of field, fruit, vegetable and forest crops.


It is highly toxic to humans, mammals, birds, and honeybees. It is used on food crops, citrus trees and as seed treatment, on golf courses and in commercial and institutional facilities. Exposure to Acephate results in nausea, diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, shaking sweating, rapid heart rate, dizziness and confusion. Pets can also get exposed to the insecticide from eating granules from the ground.


Used on various agricultural crops and in homes. When bifenthrin gets on the skin, it causes tingling, itching, burning, or numbness at the site of contact. Inhaling bifenthrin can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs.

People who ingest large amounts of bifenthrin may experience a sore throat, nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting almost immediately. In terms of environmental impact, bifenthrin is hardly soluble in water and is very harmful to aquatic life.


This insecticide is registered in Kenya to control mites, aphids and thrips on coffee. Exposure to humans leads to perspiration, vomiting, drowsiness, fatigue, headache, and at high concentrations, convulsions and coma. A study by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) reported an increased incidence of tumours of the pancreas, mammary glands, and forestomach in animals.

The Environmental Protection Agency of the U.S. has classified dichlorvos as a Group B2, probable human carcinogen, meaning there is existing evidence suggesting it is likely to cause cancer.


It is registered to control insect pests on barley, maize, wheat and pineapples and can harm humans and the environment if not used properly. It causes headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, tremors, seizures and paralysis; developmental disorders including reduced IQ, attention deficit and autism in children exposed during pregnancy or early childhood and Cancer of the lung, prostate and blood. In the U.S., In 2021, EPA revoked all tolerances for chlorpyrifos on food crops. This means that any food with chlorpyrifos residues is considered unsafe and illegal to sell or consume in the U.S.


It is a medication and an insecticide. As a medication it is used to treat scabies and lies and applied to the skin as a cream or lotion. As an insecticide, it can be sprayed onto outer clothing or mosquito nets to kill the insects that touch them. Side effects include rash and irritation at the area of use.


This is an insecticide registered to control various insect pests on coffee, potatoes, tobacco and cotton. It is known to disable cholinesterase, an essential enzyme for the central nervous system. It acts on both contact and through ingestion, and is readily absorbed and distributed throughout plant tissues, but degraded relatively rapidly.


A systemic insecticide and acaricide. It inhibits enzymes and overstimulates the nervous system that transmits nerve impulses. It was reviewed by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority in 2016 and banned from being used in home gardens and on some horticulture crops because of concerns around toxicology, occupational health and safety, and residue. It is highly toxic to honeybees, birds, and freshwater invertebrates and has never been registered for use in the U.S., but it has been registered in other countries. 


This insecticide is registered in 42 products to control a variety of insect pests on various crops. However, concerns have been raised about its impact on human health and the environment. It has been linked to elevated risk of autism disorders and congenital heart defects and increased risk of major brain defects at birth, as well as memory loss and tremors in humans.

It has been banned for outdoor use by the European Commission and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the U.S, because of its potential to harm bees.


In Kenya it is registered in only two products for the control of aphids on citrus, grapes, and tomatoes. Despite its effectiveness against pests, the potential risk to human health and the environment led to its ban or restricted use in various regions. In the U.S., it is classified as a likely human Carcinogen while in the European Union and Angola it is illegal due to its toxicity to humans.

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