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We've updated our guidance on NICNAS to AICIS transitional arrangements.

Banned or restricted chemicals

We are often asked which chemicals are ‘allowed’ or ‘banned’ in Australia. Many people don’t realise that chemicals are regulated on a national level by 4 different government schemes, depending on the intended use of the chemical.

In Australia, there is no single list of banned or restricted chemicals that you can view or download. Bans and restrictions on chemicals and consumer product ingredients – including cosmetics – are regulated by each state and territory authority. 

Banned or restricted chemicals in consumer products and cosmetics

As a first step we recommend that you look at the Poisons Standard where you can search for chemical names. For more information and a link to the Poisons Standard, see the Therapeutic Goods Administration's website.

If you’re importing or making cosmetics, you still need to search our industrial chemicals database (Inventory) to make sure that you're meeting any regulatory obligation attached to the importation or manufacture of each chemical ingredient.

How we regulate chemicals

Our focus is on industrial chemicals and we share our recommendations to manage risks with other regulators if there is evidence that a chemical is harmful to human health and the environment. From there, it’s up to state and territory authorities to implement and enforce our recommendations through legislation, regulations and standards.

We can limit the importation and manufacture of industrial chemicals by placing obligations on the chemicals we assess, such as:

  • limits on volume of chemicals imported or manufactured
  • limits on concentration
  • where the chemical is used

We can also add or change any obligations if further information comes to hand. It is an offence to import or manufacture a chemical if you can’t meet these obligations. To see if there are obligations for a chemical that you wish to import or manufacture, search our industrial chemicals database (Inventory).

Chemicals listed under international agreements

Australia follows international conventions and protocols to protect human health and the environment against the effects of hazardous chemicals.

If you wish to import or manufacture a chemical listed under an international agreement, you must comply with special conditions.

Under part 9 of our new law, the Industrial Chemicals Act 2019, our Executive Director has the power to approve, restrict or prohibit the introduction or export of industrial chemicals listed in:

  • The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
  • Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention – for example, tetraethyl lead for aviation fuel

Go to our page about introducing chemicals listed in the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions

Who else regulates chemicals in Australia

There is no single list of banned chemicals in Australia. But there other schemes that play a role in regulating different parts of a chemical's life cycle:

State and territory authorities usually manage compliance with restrictions on the access, use and disposal of chemicals. National standards or codes of practice are reflected in state and territory legislation to provide more uniform controls across Australia.

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