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Child labor charcoal works it0591.jpg
Child labor in charcoal production. Contemporary slavery, Mato Grosso do Sul State, Brazil. Several pig-iron smelters have been set up in the country to process iron for export, mainly to the European Community. These rely on charcoal production, specially from native woods, to fuel them. Adults and children alike have been working an average of 12 to 14 hours a day, at least six days a week. They usually start two hours before daybreak and never finish before dusk. A variety of health problems and diseases are associated with the job, especially because workers do not use protective gear, like masks, boots or gloves. Pneumonia ranks high among workers because of sharp variations of temperature inside and outside the brick ovens that turn wood into charcoal. Many families live in shacks made of plastic sheeting. Usually they have no access to clean water, sanitary facilities and medicines.