Textile Industry and Health Hazards: Impact of Climate Change Issues and Fertility Potential

Textile Industry and Health Hazards: Impact of Climate Change Issues and Fertility Potential

Nibedita Naha, Gokul Manickavachagam
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4480-8.ch003
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Textile industry is one of the primarily concerned industries in the world generating huge revenues where both the skilled and unskilled labours are employed. Raw materials are mainly synthetic chemicals rather than the natural one. Several bleaching agents, additives are also used to get sufficiently high and uniform degree of whiteness in the textile materials. Environmental contamination is also common by the textile effluents. All these substances are mutagenic and carcinogenic, and cause enormous health hazards to humans, animals, and aquatic lives. Infertility, implantation failure, and miscarriage due to exposure to dyes, dye intermediates, and other raw materials are major concern worldwide as integrity of both the male and female gametes are massively affected by them. However, little or no attention has been paid in real life scenario, mainly in the developing and under developed countries including adaptation of successful and advanced mitigation strategies. Therefore, the chapter highlights the common issues and possible remedial measures of the textile industry exposure with respect to fertility potential and pregnancy outcome.
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The industry which benefited most from the industrial revolution was the textile industry that started its journey as small as cottage industry prior to 1700s. People at that time produced and sold their textiles, mainly, cotton and wool to local communities as the long distance trade was not familiar. However, due to industrialization, different kind of textiles are produced rapidly in a central place on a large scale with the help of new technologies and marketed from one country to other, even to continent; thereby a huge number of skilled and unskilled man-power are employed day-by-day. Textile is a flexible network of natural (i.e., wool, silk from animals; and cotton, flax, jute, bamboo from plants) and artificial (nylon, polyester, acrylic, rayon) fibers, produced by spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting, knotting, felting, or braiding. Textile is also made up of interacting fibers such as, carpeting and geotextiles.

Today, clothing, or garment of vibrant colors rules the types of textile production and shelf-life of the textiles, along with market as well, which involve several kinds of chemicals, or dyes (mostly azo dyes), resins, fiber additives, minerals etc., causing deterioration of the ecological balance. More than 10000 types of dyes are used these days in textile manufacturing; of which almost 70% are synthetic azo dyes because of their cost-effectiveness and having complex structures (HSE, 2016; Hassan et al., 2017). The world-wide production of dyes is about 800,000 tons per year; 10–15% of which are lost during different processes in the textile industry (HSE, 2016; Hassan et al., 2017); thereby releases harmful colors into environment due to incomplete exhaustion of dyes, leading to health hazards. Further, textile dyeing requires a huge amount of water i.e., 200 tons of water per ton production of textiles (IARC monograph, 1998); hence, effluents are the main source of water pollution as well as a biggest threat to aquatic lives. Also, consumers play a crucial role in the pollution chain of the textile industry through several apparels.

Worldwide India is the 3rd leading textile exporters with export values of 17 billion USD after European Union (EU, 69 billion USD≅23% of global market share) and China (110 billion USD≅37.2% of global market share) (Statista, 2019). India is 1st in jute production, and 2nd in silk and cotton production in 2017–18 alone. However, lowest production cost, huge number of workers, reduction of commercial barriers and availability of materials remain behind the advantages of China as compared to India (Statista, 2019). EU, Italy, Germany, Spain, and France are the prime countries comprising of more than 170 thousand textile and clothing companies in 2017; 70% of them are clothing companies, 30% are textile companies, while man-made fiber companies account for less than 1% in contrast to China and India (Statista, 2019). Pakistan, Bangladesh and Ethiopia are also the leading countries in this regard.

As per ILO (2015), about 60–75 million people are employed in the textile and clothing industries worldwide; of them about three quarters are females. According to OECD (2017), the global middle class could reach 3.2 billion by 2020 and 4.9 billion by 2030 that ensure hundreds of millions of new consumers come mostly from the developing and underdeveloped countries; hence, overall demands of the skilled workforce and challenges for decent work are likely to be increased remarkably. In India, the textile industry employs 40 million workers directly and 60 million workers indirectly (https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/fashion/textiles-clothing/eu_en). As per 2006 official figures, out of total 760 million workforces, around 20 million migrant workers are employed in the textile and garment sectors (Wong, 2008), who come from the unorganized sector of the Afro-Asian countries, and are suffering from ‘flexible/no’ contracts as well as no minimum health care benefit, or protection.

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