Retailers urged to be vigilant over suspicious chemical sales

Acetone and hydrogen peroxide are thought to have been used in the recent Brussels terrorist attacks

In the aftermath of the Brussels attacks on 22 March, attentions have turned to the availability of chemicals used to make the homemade bombs that killed 35 people and injured many more in Brussels airport and Maelbeek metro station.

Reports circulated that a triacetone triperoxide (TATP) based explosive was found at an apartment belonging to one of the suspected bombers. It is not confirmed whether TATP was used in the attack on Brussels, however, TATP was identified as the primary explosive material used in the November 2015 Paris attacks and the 2005 London bombings.

TATP is known to be easily made from everyday chemicals including hydrogen peroxide, used to lighten hair; and acetone, a key component of nail polish remover, which can be bought as a neat solvent from retailers such as Boots and Superdrug as well as online from professional beauty suppliers including salon-services.com.

The easy availability of these products brings the responsibility of retailers firmly into the spotlight, as well as those further up the supply chain.

Speaking to Cosmetics Business, Peter Newport, CEO of the Chemical Business Association, said: “Frequent retail purchases of small quantities, even in concentrations below regulatory thresholds for consumer sales, can soon procure enough chemical substances to be misused . . .

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