“Sandblasting has become the key method for finishing most modern jeans requiring that ‘worn-out’ look. Under the sandblasting process the denim is smoothed, shaped and cleaned by forcing abrasive particles across it at high speeds. The process is fast and cheap and demand for pre-worn denim has led to a massive rise in its use. But this fashion comes at a price: the health and even the lives of sandblasting workers.”
Why is it harmful?
“Sandblasting causes silicosis which the World Health Organization states leads to ” lung fibrosis and emphysema. The form and severity in which silicosis manifests itself depend on the type and extent of exposure to silica dusts: chronic, accelerated and acute forms are all recognized. In later stages the critical condition can become disabling and is often fatal. A frequent cause of death in people with silicosis is pulmonary tuberculosis (silico-tuberculosis). Respiratory insufficiencies due to massive fibrosis and emphysema (respiratory tissue loss is not always present), as well as heart failure, are other causes of death.”
“The International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation launched its campaign to eliminate the use of sandblasting in the garment industry in 2009. Since then we have pushed both Governments and Brands to take action to eliminate this dangerous and unnecessary process … The campaign was initiated following the revelation that as many as 10,000 garment workers in Turkey could potentially develop silicosis due to inadequate protection during the sandblasting of denim … In 2010 both Levi’s and H&M jointly decided to eliminate the process from their supply chains representing a major breakthrough in the campaign.”
- See Clean Clothes Campaign ‘Deady Denim‘ report which investigates nine Bangladeshi factories that still engage in the controversial denim-weathering technique. “Well over 45 percent of interviewees recognized the logos of brands shown to them as being manufactured in the factories in which they worked,” the study reads. “These brands included H&M, Levi’s, C&A, D&G, Esprit, Lee, Zara, and Diesel, all of whom, except D&G, claim to have banned sandblasting.” The so-called bans, the campaign says, have not only been poorly monitored but also regularly circumvented. Source: eCouterre
- See the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation ‘Campaign to Eliminate Sandblasting ‘
- See Fair Wear Foundation’s updated guidelines on Sandblasting and Fair Trade Centre Sweden’s ‘Fashion Victims‘ (2010) and ‘Still Fashion Victims?’ (2012 followup study) on Sandblasting