Who we are and what we do
We help protect the health of Australians and our environment by finding out the risks of industrial chemicals and recommending ways to promote their safer use.
We replaced the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) on 1 July 2020.
We regulate chemicals (including polymers) that are manufactured or imported into Australia for an industrial use, such as in inks, paints, adhesives, solvents, cosmetics and personal care products, cleaning products, as well as in manufacturing, construction and mining applications.
The Industrial Chemicals Act 2019 establishes the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS) to regulate the importation and manufacture (introduction) of industrial chemicals in Australia.
Chemical regulation in Australia
In Australia, chemicals are regulated under both state/territory and national laws. At the national level, chemicals are regulated according to their use. There are 4 main regulatory authorities for chemicals – each focusing on a particular type of use:
- Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme regulates industrial chemicals such as paints, adhesives, inks, plastics, glues, solvents, soaps and ingredients in cosmetics.
- Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority regulates agricultural and veterinary chemicals, such as pesticides, animal medicines, insect repellents, garden sprays and some pool chemicals.
- Therapeutic Goods Administration regulates medicines and products marketed as having therapeutic effects, such as skin-whitening lotions, complementary medicines and blood products
- Food Standards Australia and New Zealand regulates ingredients in food and food additives for human consumption, such as processing aids, colourings, vitamins and minerals.
If your chemical has multiple uses, you must follow the requirements of each applicable Australian Government and State or Territory regulatory body.
We define industrial use by exclusion. This means that an industrial use is any use that isn’t:
- an agricultural chemical product – as defined by the AgVet Code
- a veterinary chemical product – as defined by the AgVet Code
- use as a substance or mixture of substances prepared by a pharmacist or veterinary surgeon, or in the preparation of these – as defined by paragraph 5(4)(a) of the AgVet Code
- a therapeutic good – as defined by the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 or
- use as food for humans or animals, or in the preparation of it
If you chemical has multiple uses, you must follow all regulations that apply for each use type.
What we do
To promote the safe use of industrial chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment, we:
- conduct scientific risk assessments on the introduction and intended use of industrial chemicals in Australia, and we publish our findings
- maintain the Australian Inventory of Industrial Chemicals (the Inventory)
- issue certificates and authorisations for the introduction of industrial chemicals in Australia
- make risk management recommendations to protect human health and the environment for consideration by other state, territory or Australian Government agencies under their legislation, regulations and standards
- set and maintain the Industrial Chemicals Categorisation Guidelines
- maintain the Register of Industrial Chemical Introducers
- monitor compliance and investigate any breaches of our laws
- collect statistics on the use of industrial chemicals in Australia
- assist Australia to meet its obligations under international agreements regarding industrial chemicals
- collaborate with other regulatory authorities involved in chemical regulation in Australia
- work with other countries to harmonise and adopt (where applicable in the Australian context) international standards and risk assessment methods
The Department of Health and Aged Care's Annual Report contain details and statistics about our activities, including our achievements for each financial year.
What we don’t do
- register products
- provide certificates of free sale, export certificates, certificates of origin, or any other product certification
- provide general consumer advice on cosmetics or other products
- provide or approve safety data sheets
- regulate the use, storage, disposal, labelling or packaging of industrial chemicals and products containing industrial chemicals
- manage chemical accidents or site remediation
State and territory authorities regulate and enforce appropriate chemical use, storage and disposal.
Please contact these other agencies or organisations who can expertly answer your questions about these topics.
Chemicals of a security concern
|Chemicals used in food||Food Standards Australia and New Zealand|
|Chemicals used in medicine, therapeutic goods or classified as poisons||Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)|
|Chemicals used in animals and agriculture||Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA)|
|Emergency response to accidents involving toxic substances||Triple Zero|
Fair trading and consumer protection
Labelling and safety concerns about chemicals used in consumer products
|Hazardous waste and managing chemicals in the environment||Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water|
|Importing goods for personal use||Australian Border Force – Importing by post or mail|
Imports–prohibited and restricted
Precursor chemicals–illicit drugs
The Therapeutic Goods Administration's Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons
Transporting dangerous goods (explosives, flammable liquids, gases, corrosives and chemically reactive or highly toxic substances)
Safe Work Australia's Hazardous Chemical Information System
Safe Work Australia's WHS regulators' contact information
How we work
We assess the risks of industrial chemicals to human health and the environment by scientifically interpreting information about chemicals provided by industry (or obtained from other sources) in the context of the intended use of the chemical. Read the principles covering how and why we assess risk.
The full cost of administering AICIS is recovered through fees and charges paid by importers and manufacturers (introducers) of industrial chemicals.
The Executive Director of AICIS is an independent statutory office-holder appointed by the Governor-General with specific powers and functions under the Industrial Chemicals Act 2019. The current Executive Director is Graeme Barden.
The Executive Director is assisted by staff in the Office of Chemical Safety in the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care. Environmental risk assessments are done by staff in the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water under AICIS.