Under our industrial chemicals laws, an introduction means the importation or manufacture of an industrial chemical in Australia. An importer or manufacturer of industrial chemicals is an ‘introducer’.
Our regulation of industrial chemical introductions includes a requirement for introducers to categorise their introductions against our criteria and for us to assess the risks of certain industrial chemical introductions.
Why categorise an ‘introduction’ rather than an ‘industrial chemical’?
The risk posed by the introduction of an industrial chemical relates not only to the hazards of the chemical (the harm it could cause) but also to the degree to which humans or the environment are exposed to the chemical. We can’t change the hazards of a chemical, but we can recommend ways to make sure that people and the environment are only exposed to the extent that is not likely to cause harm.
The categorisation process requires introducers (importers and manufacturers) to consider both hazard (an intrinsic property of the chemical) and exposure. Factors affecting exposure relate to how the chemical being introduced is intended to be used (the circumstances of the introduction). These factors include:
- the quantity (volume) of the chemical that is imported or manufactured
- the end use of the chemical
- the concentration of the chemical when exposure could occur (such as during manufacturing processes or at end use)
- how the chemical is released to the environment (during and after end use)
- whether the chemical will be imported, manufactured locally, or imported for reformulation in Australia
We talk about categorising an introduction, not a chemical, because the risk depends not only on the features of the chemical itself, but on the circumstances under which it is manufactured, imported or used.
If the outcome of the categorisation is that the introduction creates medium to high risk of harm, then we need to conduct a formal risk assessment to identify ways of reducing that risk, so that we can recommend relevant regulatory controls.