Public submissions to the review of the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme.

Page last updated: 20 March 2012

PDF printable version of Haztech submission (PDF 110 KB)

To: NICNAS.review@health.gov.au

Date: 12th December 2011

Comment on NICNAS under Better Regulation of Industrial Chemicals

Dear Review Person,

My comments come under three of your points.

1/ the role and functions of NICNAS as set out in the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 and the extent to which they adequately reflect stakeholder expectations and international best practice, having regard to the broader context of chemicals regulation in Australia;

2/ The efficiency and effectiveness of NICNAS’s operating arrangements and business processes, with particular regard to the protection of human and environmental health, the management of risk, and compliance costs for business
3/ any implications for the resourcing of functions currently cost recovered, should the review recommend changed responsibilities.

Jeff Simpson, Haztech Environmental Comments:

I give permission for my comment to be published and others to copy and adjust for themselves as they want.

a/ There is a need to help the community have very "green" and sustainable chemicals introduced so that the chemicals with HS&E issues on the AICS may be phased out. For small companies the cost to notify such chemicals is prohibitive compared to the amount of income these chemicals can recover in the 5 years until they are added to the AICS. This has meant many such chemicals have NOT been introduced over the last 20 years.

I suggest that where such a greener and more sustainable chemical is notified, when the NICNAS review is complete and the chemical is compared to its existing chemicals it will replace, the Federal Government refund the NICNAS costs, which will leave a company with only its own costs to make the submission and its own costs to provide the required data.

The key argument for this is: the HS&E costs to the community will be reduced so that it makes sense for the community to help fund such very "green" and sustainable chemicals. There could be a tiered Gold, Silver, Bronze refund system to allow for some flexibility to bring in these better chemicals into use.

This approach will build NICNAS's capability to help industry move to more beneficial chemicals

b/ Where a chemical has already been evaluated by an equivalent authority overseas, then as long as the report is prepared to a similar quality, and there are no critical high HS&E hazards, there should only be minimal administrative costs for industry to have this chemical added to the inventory, and have a shorter exclusive period of two or three years of use for the notifying company.

Comment: NICNAS needs to recognise it does not have the technical resources to independently re-evaluate every industrial chemical that is or should have been introduced into Australia. Now there is a common hazardous chemicals classification system that has been prepared by the UN, each country involved in an agreed approach only needs to work to the full scope of the GHS Classification System to achieve a common system.

c/ Consider introducing the approach that New Zealand EPA uses which allows hazardous chemicals in hazardous chemical mixtures to enter NZ, provided the hazardous chemical mixture fits into one of the NZ HSNO Group Standards, with the agreed controls advised in SDSs, then the hazardous chemicals are just added to the NZ inventory, with no further cost. It is only when the hazardous chemical is imported in its concentrated form or there is no Group Standard for a mixture, that a notification review is required, but it is a much less expensive review compared to NICNAS. Where a chemical does not classify as Hazardous to the GHS criteria it is not restricted nor required to be on the NZ Inventory.

This NZ approach would overcome many problems we have introducing hazardous chemicals in mixtures into Australia. For chemicals that do not classify as hazardous to the full GHS criteria (with a full set of supporting data as defined by NICNAS), these should be just added to the AICS.

d/ It needs to be clear we have a Chemical Inventory that has CAS No.s rather than a CAS No. Inventory.Top of Page

In my April - June 2011 Hazmat & Environment Notes I wrote an article on page 5 about: "Is This a new Chemical or an Exiting One?" which was based on the ICNA Act not saying the Chemical Inventory shall have the specific CAS No. on it.

Background: Industry finds the situation where a chemical already exists on the inventory covered by a CAS No. such as 16068-46-5 which covers all ratios of Phosphoric Acid to Potassium Salt under the formula, but now there is a specific formula CAS No. 14887-42-4 for H3-O4-P.1/2K.

I regard that for this situation, where there is an exact formula and a specific CAS No. for that formula, that this CAS No. should be just added to the Inventory by NICNAS (as the chemical already exists under the generic formula, as in the above example).

This problem also arises for where we have a CAS No. for a mixture of chemicals (which means that all of the Chemicals in the mixture already exist in Australia) but that now a specific CAS Number for one of the chemicals in the mixture has been provided since the mixture is now chemically separated and sold as the individual chemical.

The NICNAS approach that seems to regard that every CAS No. is a different chemical, which would mean there are many entries on the current Inventory where there will be specific CAS No.s for particular chemicals within the scope of that entry that are NOT on the Inventory but are clearly covered by the mixture entry CAS No.

This approach was not my understanding (nor others) when the Act was set up around 1990. If we had known that the above situation would occur we would have tried to ensure every single CAS No. covering all the specific chemicals under a general entry would have been included.

This significant cost to industry if there are existing chemicals under the original approach to the Inventory which not considered as existing chemicals by NICNAS.

There are many chemicals being specifically isolated from mixtures in the quest for greener and more sustainable chemicals that are likely to caught under this interpretation by NICNAS as the chemicals (in the above situations) already exist in Australia in the existing AICS.

I regard this CAS No. focus by NICNAS as unfair.

Suggested Actions: This situation needs to be URGENTLY clarified as we are all checking the Inventory and confirming whether an Inventory listing covers the chemical(s) we are checking if the different interpretation by NICNAS stands, this will mean many existing chemicals will not be seen as existing chemicals by NICNAS.
I suggest that NICNAS needs to be explicitly authorised to add such existing specific chemicals and their new CAS Nos. to the AICS. Also, where Notification costs have already occurred, the companies be refunded both their NICNAS fee costs and their internal costs to prepare their unnecessary notification.

e/ NICNAS is the only State or Federal Authority in Australia with clear knowledge of how to classify hazardous industrial chemicals. When industry, SDS writers. or State Authorities find a difficult classification to determine there should be a fee-for-service arrangement for NICNAS to provide such classification advice.

Background: I have previously been helped by NICNAS (for no fee) where I had a Hazardous Chemical (80%) encapsulated in polymer (20%) and I was concerned to know how to best decide if the hazardous chemical was released if swallowed. I sent my written evaluation of this situation and my suggested approach to the previous director and had my approach confirmed by one of the NICNAS specialists. This meant the company had a meaningful test they could carry out to decide the hazard.

There are many situations where this sort of fee-for-advice for difficult hazardous chemicals classifications from NICNAS would be very useful.

f/ The Cosmetic (<1%) Exemption, covers formulated products delivered from overseas with <=1% of an ingredient not on the AICS that meets all the Notification requirements.

Comment: This exemption encourages local industry to close down in Australia as it is generally the minor ingredients in a product that will not be on the AICS. An Australian Manufacturer can't use this exemption but their competitor from overseas can!

Suggested Action: To allow a similar category for locally manufactured cosmetics, so that ingredients used at <=1% in final formulations, meet the NICNAS Criteria but are not on the AICS are also allowed with the same reporting. The additional requirement would be to ensure these <1% ingredients are traceable to the final cosmetic product they are used in, so they are not inadvertently (or otherwise) used in other cosmetics at >1% or used in other industrial products at any non-exempt amount.

g/ The NICNAS name does not cover its scope: It should be renamed ACRES

Now that the scope of NICNAS is has been widened from industrial chemicals to cover cosmetics and disinfectants I suggest we need to rename NICNAS as ACRES – Australian Chemical Registration and Evaluation Scheme.

The ACRES name better describes the full scope of chemicals not covered under the TGA, APVMA and FSANZ chemical control schemes, better fits the type of activity now being undertaken by NICNAS, and better matches other international chemical control schemes such as the EU REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals).


Jeff Simpson

Haztech Environmental
18 Laurel St Ashburton 3147