The government chemist has sounded a warning over cancer-causing elements in most thermos flasks sold in the country.

The agency has established that flasks with asbestos pellets can cause cancer. It said the flasks are widely used in the country.

“Inhaling fibres of asbestos material is toxic and can lead to cancer of the abdomen and asbestosis (cancer of the pleura),” a report signed by S. G. Njoroge, on behalf of the government chemist, reads.

The report notes that the thermos flasks contain Tremolite –a type of asbestos- responsible for different types of cancers cases.

This followed tests on a thermos flask sent by Mohammed Ibrahim from Garissa on September 21.

In September, a section of Wajir residents destroyed their flasks after word went round that they can cause cancer. Videos of people breaking flasks were also shared on social media causing panic even in neighbouring towns.

Experts who tested the flasks used the X-Ray diffraction analytical techniques to release instant results on October 23.

X-Ray diffraction (XRD) is a laboratory-based technique commonly used for identification of crystalline materials and analysis of unit cell dimensions.

An official at the government chemist told the Star in confidence that the exposure to cancer follows if the flasks are handled poorly, gets cracks or are broken.

“If the asbestos capsules are directly inhaled or get in direct contact with the food, then users are likely to be exposed to cancer,” the official said on Tuesday.

The Asbestos fibres are present in the separators of the double glass wall of some thermos flasks. The separator is used to separate two glass walls in vacuum condition and to minimize heat transfer from inside to outside the flask.

If the thermos breaks, the users may inhale asbestos fibres, which are carcinogenic. There are a number of recall cases in Europe of thermos flasks due to the presence of this hazardous substance.

The flasks are mostly Asian made and have flooded some Western and African markets as cheap exports.