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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.


  • Australia to Adopt GHS Revision 7 from July 2020

      January 15, 2020    Nora Wang    718

    On January 10, 2020, the Safe Work Australia (SWA) announced in a press release [1] that its members have agreed to practice the 7th revised edition of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) for management of...
  • Australia Finalizes General Rules and Transitional Rules for AICIS

      December 20, 2019    Nora Wang    1035

    Takehome: Australia announced that the General Rules and Transitional Rules for AICIS are final, and the final draft of the Categorization Guidelines is now available.
  • Australia Consults on Principles for Design of Fees and Charges for AICIS

      September 27, 2019    Nora Wang    1018

    Takehome: Australia issued a notice to consult on principles for the design of fees and charges imposed on manufacturers and importers of industrial chemicals. Eight chemicals are added to the Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention which is practiced in...
  • Key Developments in Australia’s New Industrial Chemical Scheme

      September 4, 2019    Nora Wang    1028

    Takehome: Following two delays, Australia’s new industrial chemical scheme is to be implemented starting from July 1, 2020. Under the new scheme, there will be 6 categories of introduction of industrial chemicals into Australia. Some regulatory changes...
  • Australia Publishes FAQs on New Industrial Chemical Scheme

      August 9, 2019    Nora Wang    1465

    Takehome: Australia published FAQs on its new industrial chemical scheme AICIS on July 31, 2019. New charges and fees were imposed on registrations, inventory-related services, etc., since August 1, 2019.
  • Australia SWA Consults on Proposal to Adopt GHS 7

      July 8, 2019    Nora Wang    1895

    On July 3, 2019, the Safe Work Australia (SWA) opened a consultation on the proposal to adopt an updated version of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) for management of workplace hazardous chemicals.[1] The...

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