The Use of Special Effect Pyrotechnics and Colour Powder

Safety Alert

July 2015

Background

On Saturday June 27, 2015, colour powder caught fire when launched over an audience during a music event at a water park in Taiwan, killing at least three people and injuring hundreds of others.  This type of powder, which contains mostly cornstarch, is also used in the popular “colour runs” where the runners are doused with colour powder as they cross the finish line of the race.

Issues

While it is not clear yet what ignited the powder at the water park, a dust cloud created by this type of powder could explode in the presence of special effect pyrotechnics and/or flame effects creating a dust explosion. 

Recommendations

The Explosives Regulatory Division would like to remind the users of special effect pyrotechnics of the importance of creating an appropriate danger zone at an event where pyrotechnics will be used.  As per section 404 (1) in the Explosives Regulations, 2013, the established danger zone must not contain any flammables or other items likely to catch fire (for example, confetti, balloons and coloured powder).

It is also critical that safety meetings are held with all those involved in the event.  Section 403 (3) requires that meetings are held between all parties who are involved in the pyrotechnic event (for example, security guards, artists and technicians) to inform them of the pyrotechnics that will be used and the safety precautions to be taken during the event.

# ERD-SA17-01-2015

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