From: Ribchester, UK
Image credit: Sean Gallagher, The toxic price of leather, 2013
Photographer description: On the banks of the Ganges River in northern India lies the city of Kanpur. It is now the biggest producer of leather products in the whole country. First established in the mid 19th Century, the city’s leather is exported across the world, with 95% of its leather destined for western markets. This success is coming at great environmental and social costs that are destroying the local Ganges River ecology and scarring the local people in the form of life-threatening illnesses. The city is now notorious for having some of the country’s worst water pollution, which has been created by the leathery tannery industry which discharges waste water laced with toxic chemicals freely into local waterways. This water is used by local people and is channelled onto local farmland, subsequently poisoning the soil, entering the food chain and accumulating in local ecosystems. An array of health problems now afflict
locals who are suffering as a result of the bio-accumulation of dangerous toxins over the past decades.