The Hidden Human Cost (from www.labourbehindthelabel.org)
Jeans with the faded or worn out look achieved by blasting sand at high velocities at denim often retail for as much as 180% of the price of a normal denim. Yet the hidden cost is paid by sandblasting operators working today in countries such as Bangladesh, China, Mexico and Egypt, many of whom will contract an acute form of the fatal lung disease silicosis due to fine silica particles gathering in the lung.
The first case of silicosis in the garment industry was identified in 2005 by doctors in Turkey, who were investigating the reason for a high incidence of lung and respiratory problems among the young men employed in the industry. By 2010, over 1000 affected workers had been identified in Turkey. 46 workers, mostly young men, had died of the disease and doctors suspect 5,000 other unreported cases. Silicosis can become fatal within 6 to 9 months.
For more information:
Shop Ethical: http://www.ethical.org.au/get-informed/issues/jeans-sandblasting/
BBC News - Sandblasted jeans: Should we give up distressed denim?