What Is A Chemical?
A substance is defined as a chemical (and may require
notification) if it falls under any of the following definitions:
Discrete chemical elements, compounds and complexes
of particular molecular identity, either as a pure or technical grade
substance, for example:
Chemical element: lead (CAS no. 7439-92-1);
Chemical compound: succinic acid (CAS no.
110-15-6), polyvinyl chloride (CAS no. 9002-86-2); and
Chemical complex: ferric ammonium oxalate (CAS
Note: the chemical name and CAS number are the
identifying characteristics of the chemical.
Chemical elements, compounds and complexes which
exist as components in a physical mixture of chemicals, either by
chemical reaction or deliberate mixing of the chemicals (the mixture
itself is not notifiable), for example:
Chemical element in a mixture: oxygen (CAS no.
7782-44-7) in a mixture of gases;
Chemical compound in a mixture: the plasticiser
dibutyl phthalate (CAS no. 84-74-2) in a poly(vinyl chloride) blend;
Chemical complex in a mixture: an aqueous solution
of ferric ammonium oxalate (CAS no. 14221-47-7).
Chemicals of unknown or variable composition,
complex reaction products or biological other than a whole plant or
animal (UVCB substances). These are poorly defined substances that
cannot be represented by a complete chemical structure and specific
molecular formula, for example:
Unknown or variable composition: chlorinated
paraffin sodium sulfonate (CAS no. 68910-45-2), where the degree of
Complex product of a chemical reaction: tall oil,
reaction products with diethanolamine (CAS no. 97489-16-2) where the
product of a chemical reaction is in a mixture with its reactants;
Biological material: geranium oil (CAS no.
Naturally-occurring chemicals, meaning unprocessed
chemicals occurring in nature, or chemicals occurring in nature which
have been extracted from the parent material through certain defined
processes without chemical change, for example:
Naturally-occurring biological chemicals;
Inorganic chemicals in the soil; and
Minerals extracted from ore by a physical process
such as dissolution or flotation.
A substance is NOT defined as a chemical (and does not
require notification) if it fits any one of the following descriptions:
Articles, being items which, due to their use, have
been manufactured into a certain shape or design, and which do not
change their chemical composition during use. For example, steel ball
bearings, compounded plastic pipe or adhesive films would be considered
to be articles. For the purposes of NICNAS, articles do not include
fluids or substances that may be manufactured or imported in particulate
or aggregate form, for example, a polymer in granular from which will be
Radioactive chemicals – chemicals having a specific
activity greater than 35 becquerels/g.
Mixtures, being physical combinations of chemicals
resulting from deliberate mixing or from chemical reactions, but not
being UVCB substances. Although a mixture itself is not notifiable, new
industrial chemical components in the mixture are notifiable unless
What to do now?
If the substance is not a chemical under the NICNAS
definition, then it is not regulated under this scheme. The substance
however may be regulated by other
Australian Government authorities.
If the substance is determined to be a chemical,
then proceed to 'Is the substance an industrial chemical?' or 'Does my
chemical require notification?'