Mica is a mineral commonly used in cosmetics, but the mining and manufacturing of mica raise several ethical and safety concerns. This section will discuss the safety concerns of mica mining and manufacturing, child labor, exploitation of labor and wages, environmental impact, and lack of transparency in the mica supply chain.
Safety Concerns of Mica Mining & Manufacturing:
Miners and workers in cosmetic manufacturing may be exposed to airborne mica particles, which can irritate the lungs and potentially cause lung scarring. When contaminated with silicate mineral, mica powder has been shown to cause cancer in animals. The dangerous working conditions, including mine collapses and deaths, have amassed global attention.
India, China, Brazil, Madagascar, Pakistan, and Sudan are associated with child labor in the mica mining industry. In just the Indian “mica belt,” more than 22,000 children are estimated to work in the mica mining industry. The labor-intensive process requires hammers or ice picks to chip away at the mica for hours on end, and mine collapses and deaths are frequent. Many mica miners and workers are underpaid and exploited, perpetuating a cycle of poverty.
Exploitation of Labor & Wages:
Roughly 70% of Indian mica is the result of illegal artisanal and small-scale mining, the vast majority of which are associated with exploitative work conditions. Mica miners and workers are often underpaid and exploited, working long hours in arduous conditions for little compensation. Unfortunately, given the economic situation of many mining families, their continued employment in mica mines is the only way to survive.
Mica mining can have detrimental environmental effects, including deforestation, soil erosion, and habitat destruction. Unregulated mining practices can harm local ecosystems and water sources, leading to long-term ecological damage.
Lack of Transparency:
The mica supply chain is often complex and lacks transparency, making it difficult to ensure ethical sourcing and responsible mining practices. Companies may struggle to trace the origins of mica powder in their products, which makes it difficult for consumers to know if the products they are purchasing are ethically sourced.
Overall, the use of mica in cosmetics raises several ethical and safety concerns, including child labor, exploitation of labor and wages, environmental impact, and lack of transparency in the supply chain. While some companies are trying to improve the industry by offering ethically sourced mica, the harsh realities of the current mica industry must be addressed to ensure the safety and well-being of miners and workers.