Introduction to Tannery

The notion of tannery, also referred to as a tannery, refers to the place where the process that allows the skin of a dead animal to be transformed into leather is carried out. This procedure is carried out in several stages.

The first task carried out in a tannery is cleaning the skin. This involves removing hair, fat and meat with the help of chemical agents. Then you have to tan the skin with tannin (vegetable tanning) or chrome (mineral tanning). The third step is retanning, which includes dyeing. Finally the skin is dried, coated and washed to obtain the final product (the leather).

Thanks to all these activities carried out in the tannery, a material is obtained that can be preserved over time since it does not rot. If, on the other hand, the skin does not turn into leather, putrefaction soon sets in.

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It is important to mention that tanneries, due to the processes they carry out and the substances they use, are polluting. Its activity generates gaseous emissions and produces multiple wastes. Those who work in these places, in addition, can suffer from dermatitis and other health problems when in contact with the skins and chemical products.

Specifically, we can state that the work carried out in the tanneries brings with it a series of consequences that are adverse for the environment in general. We are referring to the following:

-In the work that is undertaken to tan the skins, harmful substances are released, such as hydrogen sulfide and dust.

-Of course, solid waste is generated such as animal fat, meat, skin trimmings…

-In the same way, we cannot forget that the gaseous emission that is the result of working with ammonia is also produced. Emissions that, in addition to being annoying due to the smell they give off, can harm humans and the natural environment.

-No less important is that they can give rise to a series of wastewater that, among other things, is full of feces, urine and substances that come from both the animal itself and the chemical products that are used.

To all this we must add that there is a risk that, due to some problem or unforeseen event, the workers who carry out their work in a tannery may see their health affected. And it is that coming into contact with certain gases or liquid products can lead them to suffer conditions, especially on their skin. Hence, it is essential that they carry out their tasks with the clothing and equipment necessary to prevent these situations, such as masks, goggles and even suitable gloves.

Many non-governmental organizations have, in fact, denounced tanneries for polluting the environment. An investigation by Greenpeace in Argentina, for example, warns that about 50% of the pollution that affects the Matanza-Riachuelo basin comes from the tanneries in the area, which use about 500 kilograms of chemical agents to process a ton of raw leather.