Killer Jeans, Sandblasting and Fashion Victims

The deadly effects of silica in the denim industry were first noticed in Turkey, where the sand used contains up to 80% silica, according to the Turkish Solidarity Committee of Sandblasting Labourers. As dust from sandblasting enters the air, the workers are exposed to the silica, which causes a known occupational disease, silicosis. Silicosis is a fatal, incurable lung disease that is irreversible and continues to progress even when exposure to the mineral stops. In the last decade, approximately 600 Turkish workers have been diagnosed with the disease and as of July 2010, at least 46 workers had died as a result of silicosis.

In an effort to halt the spread of silicosis in Turkey, the government banned manual sandblasting in April 2009. Similarly, denim-producing companies, Levi Strauss & Co and H&M, announced a global ban  of the process in September 2010. Unfortunately, many other companies and countries have been slower to implement bans on sandblasting. The CCC reports that manual sandblasting may still take place in major jeans-producing countries like Bangladesh, Egypt, China, Cambodia and Mexico.

To make the jeans industry safer for its workers, the CCC has launched an urgent action demanding that brands take responsibility for their supply chains and ban the process of sandblasting. Take action today with CCC to let brands know that you won’t stand for inaction on this important issue. Until more brands make their sandblasting policies public, you can avoid contributing to the spread of silicosis by being conscious of which jeans you buy. If a pair of jeans looks faded and worn, check the labeling or ask the retailer what finishing technique was used on the jeans.



re: Killer Jeans, Sandblasting and Fashion Victims

Wow, I had no idea that my jeans were being made to look "worn" through a process that was that hazardous to workers. The argument that these workers wouldn't have the opportunity to work for a living if these factories didn't give them the job of sandblasting is preposterous! It wouldn't cost that much more for factories abroad to use sand with minimal silica, while still achieving the same result. This causes such a severe illness, I'm not going to ever buy another pair of worn jeans unless I know where it came from. I urge everyone to do the same and support ILRF in their initiative to ban this practice forever.

re: Killer Jeans, Sandblasting and Fashion Victims

Sandblasting has become increasingly popular in denim production over the last twenty years and is being used in different production countries worldwide as a finishing method when treating denim.