Just another product from China that endangers our people:
Last summer, it was Chinese-made toys, pet food and meat that caused concern. This July 4th holiday, there are new worries about the overly explosive nature of its fireworks. This week, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a report saying it found that nearly half of the shipments they inspected coming from China do not meet Federal safety guidelines. That's especially worrying since, according the American Pyrotechnic Association, 98 percent of fireworks used in backyards and front lawns across America are manufactured in China. NEWSWEEK's Caitlin McDevitt spoke with Scott Wolfson, a chief spokesman for the Commission about its findings and why this Independence Day could be more volatile than in previous years.
In the Commission's test of 400 Chinese shipments, 46 percent of were found to be non-compliant. That seems quite high. What were some common violations?
Wolfson: There are very strict mandatory standards for how much flash powder can be in consumer fireworks. Flash powder is the main ingredient that gives it its explosive nature. We often look for those that are over-packed. There are also standards that deal with stability. The fuse length also has to meet a standard, and there has to be certain labeling.
What's allowable under Federal standards?
Under Federal standards for legal consumer fireworks, there should only be 50 mg of flash powder or less in firecrackers, which stay on the ground and can produce a snake like effect. Aerial fireworks must contain 130 mg or less.
Some of the fireworks you found head for the consumer market was actually commercial grade, meaning they were more explosive and volatile. How are such fireworks ending up in the hands of consumers?
The CPSC has seen unscrupulous sellers willing to provide professional fireworks to consumers. It is actually a felony to sell professional fireworks to a person who does not have the appropriate license. It is also a felony to buy professional grade fireworks without a license.
Are there particular brands or kinds of fireworks that consumers should be wary of?
Anytime a product proves to be volatile the CPSC seeks to remove that product from the marketplace. The CPSC strongly encourages consumers to only use consumer grade fireworks and to use them as intended and directed.
What should people do if they suspect they may have such fireworks?
Consumers should only purchase fireworks from an approved source. They should look for fireworks with brightly colored wrapping, that has the clear and legible name of the product and only buy products out the front door - Consumers should avoid buying products in plain wrapping with no identifiable marking and being sold out the back door.