KCSE candidates and invigilators fall ill after Chemistry practical

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Multiple Form Four candidates and invigilators have been taken ill after they were exposed to a suspected deadly chemical used during chemistry practical exams last Friday.

In Trans-Nzoia, an expectant teacher is admitted to Galilee hospital after developing complications following the exposure.

She was rushed to the hospital after being exposed to fumes that emanated from heating xylene at Gidea Girls School in Kwanza.

According to The Nation Knec directed headteachers to buy and use the poisonous chemical as an alternative for the cyclohexane, which was unavailable in the market.

A student from St Peters Kajulu Secondary, a mixed day school, was admitted at the Kombewa Sub-County Hospital on Friday after the chemical exploded on her face.

The candidate sustained serious burns during the chemistry practicals.

Kisumu County Kuppet Executive Secretary Zablon Awange said other schools including Kasagam Secondary and St Theresa Girls witnessed the explosion of the toxic gas.

“We are demanding for ministerial statement on the use of xylene as a reagent in the chemistry practicals. The xylene gas is a poisonous gas which can cause adverse health complications not only on the students but teachers as well,” said Mr Awange.

He called on the ministry of Education to compensate all those affected.

“We have asked our teachers to go for medical check ups. We don’t know why the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) chose to replace the cyclohexane for xylene. We demand an explanation,” said Mr Awange.

Basic Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang dismissed the reports saying the chemicals were the same ones that the students had been suing in their lessons.

“These are the same chemicals that they have been using in their normal teaching processes,” he said.

Xylene is an aromatic hydrocarbon widely used in industry and medical technology as a solvent.