SANDBLASTING IN THE DENIM INDUSTRY
Sandblasting is a process applied to give jeans their worn-out look. The process blasts denim with sand at high pressure to wear away the top surface of the textile and has long been practiced in the global garment industry. The effect became increasingly popular in jean trends over the past decade adding considerable value to the final product.
While other techniques such as stone-washing or enzyme treatments result in the same effects, the relative low cost, simple techniques and more importantly the speed that orders can be completed, sandblasting remains a favoured process in the fast fashion industry.
Sandblasting has long been linked to the fatal lung disease silicosis. According to the World Health Organisation it is one of the oldest occupational diseases and still kills thousands of people every year, everywhere in the world.
It is an incurable lung disease caused by inhalation of dust containing free crystalline silica. It is irreversible and, moreover, the disease progresses even when exposure stops. Extremely high exposures are associated with much shorter latency and more rapid disease progression.
DEADLY DENIM. THE REAL COST OF KILLER JEANS
Sandblasting was traditionally a process used in the mining and construction industry and strict restrictions and regulations have been imposed on these industries since the ILO/WHO International Programme on the Global Elimination of Silicosis, launched in 1995.
But while miners and construction workers could be expected to develop silicosis after 15 to 20 years of exposure, due to the lack of regulations, health and safety standards and the intensity of production, silicosis has been diagnosed in garment workers after as little as 6 months exposure.
BREATHLESS FOR BLUE JEANS 2013
The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) alongside with War on Want, SACOM and IHLO release new research that shows that the practice of sandblasting – used in order to give jeans a worn or ‘distressed’ look – is still widespread in China despite most Western brands banning the practice three years ago because of its link to silicosis, a deadly lung disease that has already caused the deaths of many garment workers.
Download the Breathless for Blue Jeans report here
DEADLY DENIM REPORT 2012
As a result of the Clean Clothes Campaign’s 2010 ‘Killer Jeans’ campaign, many companies have banned the use of sandblasting in their clothing lines, but a new CCC report reveals that regardless of whether a brand has ‘banned’ sandblasting or not, sandblasting – both manual and mechanical – is still commonly used.
Download the CCC Deadly Denim report here.
CALL FOR ACTION
The Clean Clothes Campaign Ireland is asking;
Retailers to publicly ban the use of sandblasting in their supply chains .
WHO / ILO to recognise the garment industry in its Programme on the Global Ellimination of Silicosis
For the Irish government to ban the importation of sandblasted denim into Ireland.