Industry Watchdog: Are you unwittingly aiding in the creation of explosives?

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Purchasing beauty supplies in bulk is more eco- and wallet-friendly, right?

In the majority of cases, yes! But according to some intelligence experts, it might be a sign of suspicious activity.

A release issued on August 23 by the National Coalition of Estheticians, Manufacturers/Distributors & Associations (NCEA), in cooperation with the FBI's Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, warned vendors to be on the watch for suspicious ordering of certain chemicals and materials that may be used to create peroxide/acetone-based explosives, specifically triacetone triperoxide (TATP), a highly volatile, explosive compound made from chemicals that are widely available in the beauty industry. (In fact, these chemical explosives were responsible for 2009's Christmas Day Bombing and the London Bombing in 2005.)

Accordingly, the NCEA has alerted the beauty industry to be on the lookout for the following suspicious behaviors:

1. Requests for large quantities of professional hydrogen peroxide or acetone (consumer-grade hydrogen peroxide is only 3% to 6% concentrated)
2. Numerous smaller purchases of of either substance
3. Requests for higher concentrations of the substances, or, information on how to do that themselves
4. Instances in which the quantity of substances desired is inconsistent with their intended use, as well as illogical explanations for requiring supplies
5. Purchase of storage containers (glass jars or platic buckets), mixing utensils, and/or rubber gloves in conjunction with hydrogen peroxide or acetone

They've also issued the following tips on staying vigilant when handling chemical purchases:

1. Require valid ID from all new customers, and proof that they work at a spa or salon
2. Keep records of all purchases
3. Talk to customers, asking questions and observing their responses
4. Make note of suspicious statements, people and vehicles

Most important of all, if something seems wrong, the NCEA urges you to notify law enforcement authorities immediately. In any cases of imminent threat, call 911!

Stay safe out there! And if you've encountered any sketchy situations, please tell me about them at koreilly@creativeage.com.

Katie OReilly's picture