image credit: Greenpeace

Xintang, China is home to some 15,000 textile factories which produce 200 million pairs of blue jeans every year. The wastewater from these factories turns local rivers an unnatural shade of blue.

Residents of Xintang complain of health problems such as birth defects, breathing difficulties and skin rashes, but no serious studies have been conducted to link health maladies to pollutants from the textile industry.

Meanwhile, the cotton industry in India is being blamed for health problems linked to the toxic pesticide endosulfan. Pesticides are also believed to cause children’s hair to turn grey. But pesticides and cotton are huge industries in India, and under pressure from industry lobbyists, the government is reluctant to enact any bans.

See the following France24 video report for more:

Your clothes true colors

Additional resources:

CNN ­– China’s famed Pearl River under denim threat

Outlook India – Poison Earth

Greenpeace – Poisoning the Pearl (PDF)