Chinese pesticide factory explodes, killing 78 people and injuring hundreds… this is what agriculture giants spray on your food

Pesticide manufacturers like to reassure the public that their products are very safe, painting them as harmless substances that are actually doing all of us a big favor. They can pay off scientists and journals to bolster this message as much as they want, but the volatility of these chemicals speaks for itself in incidents like a recent pesticide factory explosion in China.

Last week, a massive explosion took place at a Yangcheng pesticide plant on China’s east coast, killing 78 people and injuring hundreds of others. These numbers are expected to climb as rescue workers make their way through the rubble; 13 people are currently listed as critically injured and 566 are still hospitalized and undergoing treatment. The explosion was so strong that it spurred a 2.2-magnitude earthquake tremor, shattering the windows of residential buildings situated miles away from the site and blowing shards of glass into people’s faces.

There was a high number of injuries related to broken glass as far away as four miles from the plant, with nearby schools forced to evacuate and hospitals struggling to keep up with the demand for aid. Not surprisingly, many of the casualties involved inhaling toxic substances and dust. Some of the victims were kindergarten students.

The factory was almost completely destroyed by the accident. It is believed that a tanker truck that was full of natural gas sparked the incident when it caught fire and detonated a storage area filled with chemicals. It took roughly 900 firefighters to stabilize the situation.

This accident is just the latest in a string of deadly explosions and industrial accidents in recent years. The president of China, Xi Jinping, ordered an investigation into the accident, and several of the plant’s workers were detained by police. Unreasonable production targets, lots of corner-cutting, and a lack of oversight are among the factors shouldering the blame for the country’s poor record in this regard.

The plant where the incident took place, the Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical Company, is no stranger to controversy. The chairman of the company that owns the plant was convicted of dumping toxic waste two years ago. The plant itself has been cited for more than a dozen different safety hazards, accumulating hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for environmental regulation violations in the last three years. One citation was for improperly handling benzene, which is believed to have played a role in this accident. It’s hard to believe they were allowed to continue to operate given their track record.

Are you sure you want to put these chemicals into your body?

This incident should serve as a wake-up call to those holdouts who still don’t think choosing organic is important. The very class of chemicals that caused an explosion strong enough to register a 2.2 on the Richter scale are being regularly sprayed on crops and, by extension, the foods that many people eat. Are you sure that’s what you want to put into your body?

On top of that, this is also a timely reminder of how loosely regulated this industry is, especially in places like China. If pesticide plant workers can let something like this happen, what other safety protocols are they ignoring? Were the chemicals mixed properly? Were they applied in the right ratio? Were they used at levels within those permitted, which are still considered by many to be too high?

There are so many variables to take in to account when it comes to pesticide use that buying and consuming these foods really is a gamble. Are you sure you want to roll the dice with your health?

Sources for this article include:

comments powered by Disqus