Chemical safety in Australia is regulated by a number of government agencies and regulations. Industrial chemicals fall under the management of the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 (ICNA Act). All chemicals that are not categorized based on specific uses (such as medicines, pesticides, food additives, etc.) are defined as industrial chemicals, including chemicals used in solvents, adhesives, plastics, paints, inks, fuels, and laboratory reagents, as well as in refrigeration, cosmetics and household cleaning. Under ICNA Act, the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) was established in 1990 and administered by the Department of Health of Australian government. The goal of NICNAS is to protect Australian people and the environment by assessing the risks of industrial chemicals and providing information to promote their safe use.
The Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances (AICS) is a list of all industrial chemicals used in Australia between January 1st 1977 and February 28th 1990 and the chemicals assessed by NICNAS since 1990. AICS consists of public section and confidential section. The public section is open for anybody to search, while enterprises must submit a request to NICNAS to search the confidential section.
The chemicals listed in AICS are regarded as existing chemicals and can be imported or manufactured in Australia without notifying NICNAS, except chemicals that need Secondary Notification in the AICS search result or have Conditions of Use. The manufacturer and importer of these chemicals should contact NICNAS before business activities.
Industrial chemicals that are not listed in AICS are new chemicals. They must be notified to and assessed by NICNAS before being manufactured or imported into Australia except they are exempted from notification for research and teaching purposes and other cases. All chemicals that receive an assessment certificate are automatically added to the public section of AICS five years after the certificate date and become searchable online. To add chemicals into the confidential section of AICS, the certificate holder must submit an application, including a justification for requesting confidential listing.
- Three out of a package of six bills were passed by the two houses of the Australian Federal Parliament, including the Industrial Chemicals Bill 2017, the Transitional Provisions, and the Amendment Bills.
- On January 11, 2019, the Australian government announced that it will further delay the implementation of the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS), which is now scheduled to be implemented in July 2020.
- From 21 July 2018, NICNAS has implemented new fees and charges for the year 2018 and 2019. The increased fee and charges to be paid by industrial chemical importers and manufacturers will recover the cost of administering NICNAS.
- The Australian government has deferred commencement of the new AICIS (new Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme) until 1 July 2019.
- The Chemical Gazette May 2018 confirms that all the products listed in the TNA were removed by NICNAS director. An additional 12 industrial chemicals are included in the AICS Inventory.
- Australia NICNAS is seeking public comments on its IMAP framework stage 2 tranche 23 (from 2 March to 11 May) and NICNAS draft rules. The tranche 23 assessments includes polymers, azo-based substances, and excluded use chemicals.
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