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Levi's Sandblasting Process Linked to 40 Deaths

By Jason Beahm on March 04, 2011 10:46 AM

Those sandblasted jeans you like are causing the people who make them some serious suffering. The process of sandblasting the jeans, which gives them a beaten and worn look, uses a product called crystalline silica, can cause silicosis, a fatal lung disease, the International Textile Garment & Leather Worker's Federation reports.

In response, Levi's and H&M have said they will stop sandblasting jeans out of concern for their workers. About 40 jean makers who worked on sandblasted clothing have died in Turkey between 2005 and 2009, the NY Daily News reports. Turkey banned sandblasting in 2009.

"We want to go to countries where jeans are produced and tell them that sandblasting kills," said Patrick Itschert of the ITGLF. His group is working to convince other companies to stop sandblasting in countries including China and Pakistan.

So what comes next? In all likelihood, lawsuits, which are likely to be filed both in the U.S. and abroad. Such lawsuits would likely be filed as a class action, at least in the U.S. A class action lawsuit is a lawsuit in which a large group of people collectively bring a claim against one or more defendants. Whereas each individual could potentially sue individually, the members of the class group together in order to pool resources and obtain experienced attorneys to fight for their claim.

Putting an end to the dangerous sandblasting of Levis jeans is a great thing, but it's likely too late to stop a lawsuit.

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