Escalation of Fireworks in Malta: Environmental Forensic Evidence from Perchlorate in Dust Fall

Authors: Colette Pace, Alfred J. Vella

Corresponding: Alfred J. Vella (

Keywords: perchlorate, environmental forensics, Malta, reworks, dust fall


Issue: Xjenza Online Vol. 4 Iss. 1 - July 2016

Summer in Malta is accompanied by reworks as part of the numerous (about 85) religious festivals (festa) that occur throughout the period. We attempted to establish whether rework activity is truly following ocial trade statistics, which imply a decreasing trend, or otherwise. Firework manufacture critically depends on the availability of oxidising agents, two of which (KNO3, KClO3) being controlled by permits but not potassium perchlorate (KClO4) which is freely available. Recent changes in legislation have slightly decreased the quantity of KClO3 and increased that of KNO3 and according to ocial trade statistics, consumption of KClO4 has decreased from 17 t=a in 2010 to  2:5 t=a during 2011{2014. However, from levels of perchlorate in dust fall and rate of total deposition we calculated the quantity of KClO4 used during 2012 and obtained  90 t=a, 36 times the ocial gure. This situation is serious since the danger of accidental explosion during manufacture escalates as production intensi es. Also, contamination of the environment by rework-waste appears destined to remain high with possible consequent effects on human health.

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