Despite being brought to light nearly two years ago – and despite a global ban on the chemical – fireworks containing hexachlorobenzene (HCB) continue to be fired over Iceland.
HCB has been banned globally under the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants. The chemical has been known to cause brain damage, cancer and hormonal imbalances. It is also environmentally persistent, meaning that it remains in the soil and water for a long time, and can accumulate in human tissue, too. It was found in 2010 that fireworks containing high levels of HCB were being exploded over Iceland.
Despite this being brought to light, RÚV now reports that last year’s fireworks not only had HCB’s in them, but that levels of the chemical in fireworks inspected last year were extraordinarily high.
The considered “safe limit” for HCB in fireworks is 50 mg/kg. However, fireworks at the store Alvöru Flugeldar were over that limit, at 210 mg/kg, while fireworks being sold by the Keflavík Football Club were at 600 mg/kg.
Environmental authorities are now requiring importers to ensure that any fireworks they bring into the country are below the safe limit.
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