Aerosol History


Aerosols were first invented in Norway in the 1920s, but it wasn't until the 1940s that they took off commercially. During the Second World War, soldiers carried large aerosols called “bug bombs” to protect themselves against insect-born diseases that were responsible for more deaths than the bullets. The first British-made aerosol was available in the shops in 1949 (an insecticide).

The UK now produces nearly 30% of the aerosols in Europe and is third only to the USA and China in world production. Production has grown dramatically since 1990. About 1.4 billion aerosols are produced each year by companies in Britain and around 60-70% are exported. UK expertise is recognised all over the world.

The best selling aerosols are deodorants and body sprays, but aerosols aren't only used for products that you find around the home. There are around 2,000 brands of aerosol products on the market with over 200 different uses. Hospitals use aerosols to spray antibiotics onto wounds, and more recently to spray skin on to burn victims. Asthma sufferers use aerosol asthma inhalers. Aerosols are used in industry, agriculture and science. Modern aerosols produce foams, mousses and creams as well as the wet and dry sprays that we usually associate with an aerosol.


Aerosol looks are as good as their performance, with sleek, modern designs. In a recent survey, consumers said that they had gone back to using aerosols after trying pump-action products from start to finish. They prefer the fine controllable spray and high performance of the aerosol products. Aerosols are airtight, clean and hygienic so they don't leak all over the bathroom and are ideal for medical products and can even be shared amongst friends and family!

In the UK, consumer aerosols have been free of CFCs since 1989. Many have not contained CFCs for over 40 years. It is possible to recycle all empty aerosols as they are made from tinplated steel or aluminium.


Unfortunately aerosols are one of a number of products subject to abuse. BAMA works closely with schools, charities and government departments to educate people about the dangers of solvent abuse. Aerosols have an excellent safety record and research has shown that people know how to use them safely. Just 5 in 10,000 home accidents involve an aerosol and most of these are minor. The industry works to the highest standards and is proud of its safe manufacturing processes.


Since the UK aerosol industry voluntarily removed CFCs from its products in 1989, it has gone from strength to strength. The industry continues to take a responsible stance towards environmental issues and safety and its products are more popular with consumers than ever before. 



Aerosols in Figures


Few industries in Britain have proved so robust and buoyant than the aerosols sector. The successes and growth of the industry, including its impressive sustainability record, are now documented in a new publication.  


BAMA has published Aerosols in Figures which acts as an important new factual journal noting key facts and data about the industry. It includes a chart showing the UK sector’s filling figures covering every year since 1965, providing a fascinating record not only of a changing industry but of changing fashions and habits amongst the population.


The publication also carries a Foreword by the renowned environmental campaigner and Founder Director of Forum for the Future, Jonathon Porritt.



This new document is available for download (see downloads section) or as a hard copy. Please email for your copy.