How leather is slowly killing people and the places where it is made

Although we have advanced as a society in new technologies, we still use animal skin in the creation of accessories. The modern leather industry in addition to animal suffering , is killing the environment and also the people who work there as they are exposed to toxic mixtures of chemicals. The industries that lead manufacturing are China and India, industries that have very low labor rates, their workers are from the poorest nations in Southeast Asia, later this material is distributed in the Western markets.

Leather process

The leather that is marketed in Chile comes from the cruel death of cows, horses, goats, pigs and sheep . Dog and cat leather is also marketed in other countries. The leather undergoes various processes to mummify the skin and stabilize the material so that it does not rot. The process to do this first involves scraping the skin to clean it of meat, grease and hair. Depending on the attributes and end uses of the leather, the methods to which it will be subjected will be different. Chrome tanned leather is the most popular and one of the most harmful . It consists of subjecting the skin to chromium salts, in order to produce a flexible product.

Leather is killing the environment

The tanning industry poses many dangers both to the environment and to those who work within it. The primary environmental threat involves the dumping of solid and liquid wastes containing traces of chromium and other dangerous compounds . This is common in countries without strong environmental protection standards such as China, India and Bangladesh. Even in fully modernized and carefully managed facilities, it is almost impossible to recover all the contaminants generated by the leather process. As a general rule, the process of one ton of skin results in 20 to 80 cubic meters of wastewater with chromium concentrations around 250 mg / L and sulfur concentrations of approximately 500 mg / L, not to mention waste effluents from the preparation phase and pesticides are often added. 70% of untreated skin is discarded as solid waste: hair, grease, meat, tendon, everything goes straight to the trash.

Sewage contamination is primarily a by-product of the initial preparation stage, in which pieces of meat, hair, mold, and other animal by-products are mixed in wash water and discarded. Minimum doses of chromium are necessary for many plants and animals to regulate metabolic functions. However, in large doses, such as when chromium wastes are dumped into regional water systems, they can damage the gills of fish, incite respiratory problems, infections, infertility, and birth defects. It can also instigate a number of serious animal cancers along the food chain.

It is also killing its workers

Work within the tannery itself is fraught with danger, often protecting workers is inadequate or non-existent. The most dangerous part of tannery is handling chrome. In humans, chromium causes ailments depending on how it is absorbed. When inhaled, chromium acts as a lung irritant and carcinogen , which affects the upper respiratory tract, clogs the airways, and increases the chances of develop lung or nasal cancer.

Unfortunately, in the absence of binding UN arbitration or a massive international boycott of chrome-tanned leather, there does not appear to be much impetus for these practices to cease. As long as the first world continues to pay these kinds of dangerous jobs to impoverished and easily exploited developing countries, the desire to use leather will only carry with it a burden of suffering .