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The city of Kanpur lies on the banks of the Ganges River in northern India. It has become one of the most important cities in India as its leather industry has grown.

First established in the mid-19th century, Kanpur is now the country’s biggest producer of leather products. Its leather is exported across the world, with 95 percent of its output destined for Western markets including those in the US, UK and Germany.

The success comes at great environmental and social cost. Pollution from the tanneries is destroying the ecology of the local Ganges River and scarring residents in the form of life-threatening illnesses.

The city is now notorious for having some of the country’s worst water pollution problems yet the tannery industry continues to discharge waste water laced with toxic chemicals, such as chromium, freely into local waterways.

This water is channeled onto local farmland, poisoning the soil, entering the food chain and accumulating in local ecosystems. At greatest risk are the people who work in the tanneries and farmers who work daily with the toxic and highly acidic water.

Local residents suffer an array of health troubles, a result of the bioaccumulation of dangerous toxins over decades. Health problems include cancers, mental illness, child development issues and skin diseases.

View more of Pulitzer Center grantee Sean Gallagher’s work through his project: “Toxic Development: The Cost of Pollution in India


Happy May Day/Happy International Worker’s Day!

Feliz primer día de Mayo/ ¡Día internacional de los trabajadores!


Union Square is the place to be today as we march in solidarity with workers worldwide. We will arrive as a contingent at Union Sq. today at 3pm. Join us!

Read more on the history and origins of May Day:

Samsung and Apple workers rise up to fight cancerous conditions

Along with advocacy groups, the workers are demanding that companies like Samsung and Apple address dangerous plant conditions they claim are leading workers to develop deadly blood cancers, occupational leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

So far, there have been more than 100 cases of workers developing these cancers during or after their time at the plants.

The problems seem to be arising on semiconductor production lines, where workers sterilize materials for smart phones and LCD screens with a mixture of dangerous chemicals. Workers come in close, repeated contact with benzene and trichloroethylene, known to cause the types of blood cancers popping up at the plants.

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