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

What is an industrial chemical?

Industrial chemicals are those with an industrial use - this covers a broad range of chemicals used in inks, plastics, adhesives, paints, glues, solvents, cosmetics, soaps and many other products.

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.

An important note about use is that a chemical can have multiple types of uses. For each use your chemical has, you need to follow the regulations for each responsible regulator. 

Examples of industrial chemicals include ingredients in cosmetics (such as soap, skin and hair care products and make up), plastics, ink, glue, paint, cleaning products and many other products typically found in homes and businesses.

See also:

In Australia, there are 4 chemical regulators at the federal level: 

  • industrial use – Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS)
  • agricultural and veterinary use – Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA)
  • therapeutic use – Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
  • food use – Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ)

If a chemical has no industrial uses, we don’t regulate it

The regulation of use and disposal of chemicals — including bans and restrictions on chemical use — are the responsibility of state and territory government authorities.

Industrial chemicals include:

  • any chemical element with an industrial use
  • compounds or complexes of chemical elements, where the compounds or complexes have an industrial use
  • UVCBs with an industrial use 
  • chemicals released by an article, where the article has an industrial use
  • naturally-occurring chemicals with an industrial use

Industrial chemicals do not include radioactive chemicals.

Agricultural and veterinary use includes:

  • agriculture, including household gardening products
  • pesticides, including household products such as personal insect repellents, insect sprays and weed killers
  • pool sanitising chemicals such as sodium hypochlorite, sodium bromide and algaecides
  • veterinary medicine, pet food and livestock feed

Therapeutic use includes:

  • medical devices including sterilants and disinfectants and in vitro diagnostic devices (IVDs)
  • medicines including prescription, over-the-counter and complementary/alternative medicines
  • Primary sunscreen products
  • Sterilants and disinfectants

Food use includes:

  • Food for humans
  • Food additives
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