Thursday, October 24, 2013

The People of Hazaribagh Leather

 Leather scraps laid out to dry on top of a landfill near Hazaribagh Photographed by Arantxa Cedillo
Hazaribagh is made up of an estimated 150 tanneries, somewhere between 90-95 percent of all Bangladesh tanneries. This industry rakes in roughly $663 million for the country, according to a Human Rights Watch report, and yet the local residents are living in slums that kill them. Workers of the tanneries suffer from*: 
  • Premature aging
  • Discolored, itchy, peeling, acid-burned, and rash-covered skin
  • Fingers corroded to stumps
  • Aches, dizziness, and nausea
  • Disfigured or amputated limbs
  • Elevated cancer rates
  • Respiratory diseases
*Health conditions described by Human Rights Watch 

Many of these conditions are the results of repeated exposure to hazardous chemicals. While each of these chemicals are dangerous, a number of them are more innocuous, such as: formaldehyde, azocolorants, and petachlorophenol. All of which are known or potential human carcinogens, the health effects of which may only manifest years after exposure.

Photographed by Arantxa Cedillo Hazaribagh's Slums beside an open gutter that channels polluted effluent from nearby tanneries.
The Human Rights Watch completed interviews with as many of the Hazaribagh tannery owners as time permitted in addition to current and former employees, government officials, NGO's (non-governmental officials), and tannery association representatives. After speaking with each of them they affirmed that no tannery in Hazaribagh had an effluent waste treatment system. NONE of the 150 tanneries. 90-95 percent of all of Bangladesh's tannery industry has no waste treatment system to stop documented poisonous industrial waste products from getting into the waterways. The government of Bangladesh estimates that 21,600 cubic meters of untreated effluent is released every day. This surpasses their own regulations by many thousands of times in many instances.

The people of Hazaribagh's leather are suffering in poisoned poverty. To learn more about the disease of Hazaribagh click here

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