Four national regulators oversee assessment and registration schemes for specific types of chemicals.
National chemical management schemes and regulators
- The Office of Chemical Safety and Environmental Health through the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) assesses industrial chemicals for health and environmental risks, and provides information to state and territorial regulators on their safe use.
- The National Registration Scheme for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (NRS) is administered by a partnership of Commonwealth, state and territory government agencies and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). The APVMA regulates agricultural and veterinary chemicals (pesticides and veterinary medicines) up to – and including – the point of retail sale. State and territory agencies are responsible for regulation beyond the point of sale.
- The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates therapeutic products (medicines and medical devices) throughout their lifecycle through risk assessment, post-market monitoring and enforcement of standards. Depending on their level of risk, medicines must be registered or listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods before they can be supplied in or exported from Australia.
- Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) assesses food additives for their safety and appropriate consumption levels. It also develops and administers the Food Standards Code to regulate the use of additives and other chemicals used in (or with) food, including contaminants and natural toxicants. Food standards are enforced by the states and territories.
The Australian Department of Environment and Energy also has a role in chemicals management. This includes
- the draft National Standard for Environmental Risk Management of Industrial Chemicals
- contributing to the development of international agreements relating to hazardous substances and making sure that Australia complies with their requirements
- national agreements for transporting potentially dangerous chemical wastes in line with the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal
- environmental assessments of industrial and agricultural chemicals for NICNAS and the APVMA
- liaising with the States and Territories on chemical matters.
International chemicals agreements
Australia is a signatory to several international agreements which require stringent approaches to managing hazardous chemicals. These include
- the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), a policy framework for international action on chemical hazards
- the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) – including PCBs, certain organochlorine compounds such as DDT, and dioxins – the Convention is implemented in Australia under the National Implementation Plan; in NSW, POPs are managed under chemical control orders (CCOs)
- the Minamata Convention on Mercury - a multilateral environmental agreement that addresses the adverse effects of mercury. Australia signed the Miniamata Convention on 10 October 2013 and is now considering ratifying the Convention to become a full Party to it.
More information on Australia's participation in international chemical agreements is available on the NICNAS website.