When not war-mongering or building phallic offices, the People’s Daily likes to dabble in shoddy science reportage. On Monday, the
shitrag newspaper ran an article claiming that the chemical compound paraxylene, which is used by China’s oft-protested petrochemical industry, is no more harmful or carcinogenic than caffeine. This claim, to put it gently, may be less than 100% accurate.
The Daily proudly touts paraxylene (PX) as a “mild chemical” that has “a fragrant smell, and even tastes slightly sweet.” Whoever had the unlucky job as “chemical taster” at the Daily had better get his guts checked; according to PX’s International Chemical Safety Card (the info sheets used by scientists and medical professionals) ingestion is less than desirable:
[PX causes a] burning sensation [and] abdominal pain. […] The substance may cause effects on the central nervous system . If this liquid is swallowed, aspiration into the lungs may result in chemical pneumonitis.
That last word, “pneumonitis,” refers to inflamation of the lungs, and is a symptom that kills more people in the US than murders. In other words, while PX may be “slightly sweet,” it is also “significantly burny.”
The People’s Daily article apparently glossed over the “Animal tests show that this substance possibly causes toxicity to human reproduction or development,” part of the chemical’s factsheet, and South China Morning Post reports:
The daily said PX was no more harmful than coffee, in terms of the cancer risk to people […]
Documents on the agency’s website show there is inadequate evidence to conclude that PX is carcinogenic, while coffee is “possibly carcinogenic to the human urinary bladder”.
[…] An associate professor specialising in environmental protection at Peking University said PX was still classified as a hazardous chemical, despite its low toxicity, and the production process poses risks that require high-level safety management.
In other words, the least reliable news source in China is proudly and publicly defending its title.