leather-shoesHave you wondered where the leather used for shoes, handbags and belts we and our kids are wearing is coming from? Also, have you wondered why leather is so cheap today and why MOST shoes are filled with toxic chemicals? Toxins we would want to stay as far away from as possible are right under our kid’s feet (and ours) 16 hours a day every single day…..AND yet there is almost no regulation.

I saw a shocking report on a French Documentary Broadcasst ‘Envoye Special’¹, under what conditions leather is made in Bangladesh. Workers are working barefoot, mostly young men and even children,  wearing no masks to filter the toxic fumes. They do not even know what they are exposed to when asked but they say they have no other choice to provide money for their families (pay is about $30/month – no day off, no vacation).

And yet one more piece of this puzzle, all the toxic soup goes unfiltered into the river, where people drink water and wash themselves. Of course no fish could survive there. So its not surprising that everybody around the leather factory is very ill. Craziest of all,  you wont believe this, they burn the scrap leather, mash it in little peaces, mix it with food and feed it to the animals which they after eat because they are so poor and have no other choice.

It made me so angry and sad to see this and thought it was important to share this information on SAFBABY.

What Is Hexavalent Chromium (Chromium VI) ?

Chromium III is used during the tanning process of 80% of the world’s leather production. Under certain production and storage circumstances, Chromium III can transform to Chromium VI.

Tests in the French report show that 40% of shoes including children shoes contain chromium 6.¹ A test conducted by the Danish Ministry of the Environment indicated that 50 of 60 reviewed shoes contained Chromium. Migration studies of 18 shoes determined that 44% of the reviewed shoes emitted Chromium VI. The Chromium VI-release of three of the 18 samples was more than 10 mg/kg. Furthermore, sandals seemed to be over-represented in the group of Chromium VI-containing shoes. The study also outlined that Chromium VI has a sensitizing effect and can cause skin reactions with allergic people.²

Health Risks of Chromium 6

Chromium-6 is recognized as a human carcinogen when it is inhaled. Chronic inhalation of chromium-6 has been shown to increase risk of lung cancer and may also damage the small capillaries in kidneys and intestines. Also, Hexavalent chromium is a strong allergen and it can lead to allergic skin reactions like contact eczema.

Other adverse health effects associated with chromium-6 exposure, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), include skin irritation or ulceration, allergic contact dermatitis, occupational asthma, nasal irritation and ulceration, perforated nasal septa, rhinitis, nosebleed, respiratory irritation, nasal cancer, sinus cancer, eye irritation and damage, perforated eardrums, kidney damage, liver damage, pulmonary congestion and edema, epigastric pain, and erosion and discoloration of one’s teeth.³

Which Children and Baby Shoes are a safer alternative?

We’re trying to put together a post this coming September with a list of safe alternative US shoe manufacturers. It’s easier said than done, as we’re having a hard time getting answers to our questions. We keep you posted!

I found this video of tanneries in India – worth watching and sharing!!!


1 http://envoye-special.france2.fr/les-reportages-en-video/cuir-les-forcats-de-la-mode-22-novembre-2012-4678.html

2 http://www.bureauveritas.com/wps/wcm/connect/c768a3804906d87d8ebdde0b59e156fb/Bulletin_11B-156.pdf?MOD=AJPERES
3 http://environment.about.com/od/healthenvironment/f/What-Are-The-Health-Risks-Associated-With-Chromium-6.htm