HCB in fireworks

Question 1.

When did the Industry become aware of the issue of Hexachlorobenzene (HCB) in Fireworks?

Answer 1.

HCB was used extensively in fireworks for many years as chlorine donor to enhance colour; latterly being largely replaced in this function by other types of chlorine donors.  The first time, in recent years, the Industry became aware of the use of HCB, was in September 2008, following the discovery of this compound by HSL, as part of a routine testing of fireworks.

Question 2.

Is it well known issue amongst the Industry?

Answer 2.

Following the HCB ‘discovery’ in 2008, knowledge of the problem spread rapidly throughout the Firework Industry. Fortunately, most Companies found that their fireworks did NOT contain HCB. The passage of this knowledge then was extended by the EA  questionnaire at a later date. EIG presumes that all firework Importers were included on the distribution of this Questionnaire; accordingly we would expect that all such Companies in existence at that time, would have been well aware of the problem.  EIG also understands that the Explosives Inspectorate (ExI)regularly checks for the presence of HCB in their Classification of new fireworks.  The issues of HCB have also been widely aired at a European level.

Question 3.

What are the general thoughts about the issue throughout the Industry?

Answer 3.

The requirements and demands of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Regulations 2007, leave no scope for thought on the matter; in that Industry accepts that articles containing HCB, are simply not permitted to be supplied.  It should be noted however that the use of HCB in fireworks may not present the same environmental  threat as its use in other forms of device.  Fireworks typically burn at temperatures in excess of 1000 deg C in an oxygen rich environment; under which conditions we would expect HCB to be completely chemically reacted in the functioning of the firework.