Segments in this Video

Fashion Victims (03:56)


Around the world, textile goods are made as cheaply as possible to sell to the big fashion chains. Buyers seldom know of the dangers left in a stylish outfit. A pair of high-end ankle boots contains high levels of the toxin DMF.

DMF Imports (02:50)

In May 2009 the EU banned DMF for imported goods. DMF arrives in sachets designed to prevent mold. Certain shoe brands frequently show up on a DMF warning list. Toxicologists look for the source of DMF.

In a Chinese Shoe Factory (03:35)

How seriously are shoe retailers taking the threat of DMF? In a Chinese shoe factory, investigators feel ill. They suspect an ingredient in the glue. Workers are unprotected from any and all toxins in the production process.

Toxic Chemicals in Tanning Factories (02:09)

In Dhaka, Bangladesh, managers and workers at tanning factories are unaware of the presence of toxins. Workers exposed to highly toxic substances and those known to be carcinogenic wear no protective clothing.

Unprotected Workers (01:31)

In Bangladesh, no authority inquires about harmful substances and products or about the health and safety of workers. NGOs and unions are the only agencies looking after workers. An accident claimed lives because of released toxins.

Contaminated Shipping Containers (03:31)

In Hamburg, nearly half the containers from Asia are contaminated with toxic chloro-organic compounds. A container of shoes tests positive for toxic chemicals, but the shoes are not confiscated. There are no rules to protect consumers.

Toxic Textiles (02:23)

Workers in the central warehouse of the H&M clothing chain complain of symptoms that could be caused by contamination. Textiles can be checked for over 1,000 chemicals. Jeans found to be contaminated with a dangerous toxic substance are not regulated by law.

Toxicity in Retail Outlets (02:36)

An employee who irons jeans at ESPRIT experiences chest pains at work. Though the manufacturer takes no responsibility for the presence of toxins, methylene chloride is found in the employee's blood.

Sand-Blasted Jeans (01:44)

In France and Turkey, sand blasting of jeans is no longer allowed. The sand led to the deaths of many workers. In Bangladesh, however, sand blasting is still allowed.

Textile Sand Blasting in Bangladesh (03:19)

In a Bangladesh textile factory workers breathe toxic fumes with every breath. Managers claim that European wholesalers demand sand-blasted jeans. Particles of quartz lodge in the lungs of the workers, eventually killing them.

Fatal Accident (02:28)

In a factory owned by Garib & Garib, suppliers for retailer H&M, 21 workers die in a blaze. Melted acrylic garments release dioxin, a deadly toxin from which the workers could not escape because they were locked in.

Black Color (02:32)

Cheap workers and cheap chemicals are the trade secrets of the big clothing chains. Black is a very popular color for men and women's fashions. Black is a difficult color to make and uses many toxic chemicals in the process.

Fabric Poisoning (02:50)

A window dresser at H&M who became very sick was tested for toxicity. Dichloroanilines and trichloroanlines were found in her blood. A researcher suggests that toxic poisoning is pandemic.

Dark Colors and Toxic Risks (02:38)

Fashion retailers want to avoid association with fabric poisoning. In cotton textile production--mostly done in India--the darker and more intense the color, the greater the toxic risk. Highly toxic mud is loosely packed in bags and stacked with thousands of other bags.

Dangerous Chemicals (03:40)

Many chemicals now banned in Europe continue to be produced in Asia--in factories that do not display their names. Chemicals that make cotton bright white are very harmful to factory workers.

Increased Incidences of Cancer (02:00)

In the textile belt of Tripura, India, doctors estimate that the number of cancer patients has doubled in the last 10 years. Clinics now specialize in tumor treatment.

Organic Raw Materials (01:35)

Many fashion chains now offer organic fibers, allegedly chemical free. Pesticides are often found in certified organic cotton. The caste of "untouchables" mixes chemicals and sprays crops. They are responsible for hospital bills when chemicals make them ill.

Genetically Modified Cotton (02:13)

Genetically modified (BT) cotton is intended to eliminate the need for toxic sprays, though this only lasts for 3 years. Insects never before seen in India are found on BT cotton plants.

Loose Definition of Organic (02:04)

In a dye works factory licensed for organic goods, there are no organic dyes, only synthetic ones. The same dyes used on the organic cotton are also used on the cheapest cotton fabrics.

Organic Production Chain (02:00)

Customers are often deceived by the "organic" properties of fabrics. Genuine organic cotton products are not available in the mass market. Only small producers make genuinely organic cotton clothing.

Credits: Fashion Victims: Textile Toxins in a Global Industry (00:20)

Credits: Fashion Victims: Textile Toxins in a Global Industry

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Fashion Victims: Textile Toxins in a Global Industry

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Social awareness may be the latest fashion trend as an increasing number of Western consumers demand eco-friendly products, created under worker-friendly conditions. But textile toxins that have been banned in Europe are still used in Asia, causing illness to garment workers before finding their way to retail outlets worldwide—and injuring human health at every point of the global distribution route. This program examines the prevalence of harmful chemicals in textiles, following a trail from sick retail consumers back to manufacturing centers in Shanghai, India, and Bangladesh, where rates of respiratory illness and cancer are on the rise. Speaking with toxicologists, health experts, and the workers themselves, the video delves into the unsafe practices used in the production of shoes, distressed jeans, and any garment dyed black, with an eye-opening segment on GMO cotton and allegedly organic fabric.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL48288

ISBN: 978-1-62102-945-8

Copyright date: ©2011

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“The strength of this film comes not from its narrative but from its images of factory and farm work in China, India, and Bangladesh....The message is important and eye-opening.”  Educational Media Reviews Online  

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Prices include public performance rights.

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Only available in USA and Canada.