Why Your Favourite Jeans Could Be Killers

21/03/2011 17:07 | Updated 22 May 2015

They say denim will never be out of fashion, and they're probably right. But if you think squeezing into the latest ultra-skinnies is painful, spare a thought for the workers involved in making them - especially if they have been treated with sandblasting.

denim-jeans-sandblastingSandblasting denim must be banned, say campaign groups. Photo: Getty Images for American Eagle, Michael Buckner

According to pressure groups such as Labour Behind the Label and The Clean Clothes Campaign, workers in countries such as Bangladesh, Egypt, China, Turkey, Brazil and Mexico who use sandblasting in the process of manufacturing denim clothing are at risk of developing lung problems, including the life-threatening disease silicosis.

Reports suggest silica dust from the sand used in sandblasting can get into workers' lungs and that it could take as little as six months for those exposed to silica dust to develop silicosis - for which there is currently no cure.

And while the awareness of the dangers of sandblasting has led some jeans manufacturers and sellers to ban the process – including New Look, Marks & Spencer, H&M and Levi's - some companies are still marketing the so-called 'killer' jeans.

According to Labour Behind the Label, which is believed to be launching a report on 'killer' jeans today, among the companies still selling sandblasted denim are Diesel, Matalan and Primark - though thankfully most firms still using the practice say they are in the process of phasing it out.

We can all do our bit to help stamp out this dangerous manufacturing process, say the campaigners, and that's by only buying jeans and other denim clothes that are sandblast-free.

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