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.
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.
AICIS replaced the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) on 1 July 2020.
We regulate chemicals (including polymers) introduced 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.
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. If your chemical has multiple uses, you must follow the requirements of each applicable Australian Government and State or Territory regulatory body.
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
What we don’t do
- register products
- 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.
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. You can 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. Read about how we recover costs.
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 Dr Brian Richards, who had also been the Director of the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) since 2012. Dr Richards’s current term of appointment expires on 26 September 2022.
The Executive Director is assisted by staff in the Office of Chemical Safety in the Australian Government Department of Health, who administer the scheme and undertake the human health risk assessments. Staff in the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment undertake the environmental risk assessments under AICIS.