NICNAS Matters December 2013
Best wishes to all readers for the coming festive season, and for the
Please note: the NICNAS office will be closed from 24 December 2013 (3.00 pm) to 1 January 2014 (inclusive). We re-open on 2 January 2014.
BTW: This is the 40th issue of NICNAS Matters. The newsletter was first published in August 2000 as a hard copy publication—see front-page image at left.
WELCOME TO ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR HEALTH
Following the September Federal Election, the Governor-General issued an Administrative Arrangements Order detailing changes to the (then) Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA). The order included significant changes to the department's responsibilities and the legislation it administers. The department is now known as the Department of Health (Health).
The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) continues as a statutory scheme within the Department of Health, and welcomes Senator The Hon. Fiona Nash (pictured at left) as Assistant Minister for Health.
Senator Nash's portfolio responsibilities include the regulation of industrial chemicals, as well as rural and regional health, indigenous health, palliative care, hearing services, food policy and alcohol, illicit drugs and tobacco policy, blood and organ donation, gene technology regulation and the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.
Her responsibilities cover the activities of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), National Blood Authority, Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA), Office of Chemical Safety (OCS), Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR), as well as NICNAS.
Senator Nash was very pleased to accept the role, saying, "I am looking forward to working with NICNAS in its important role to aid in the protection of the Australian people and environment".
CHEMICALS BUSINESS CHECKLIST —TICKING THE RIGHT BOXES FOR CHEMICALS AND PLASTICS BUSINESSES
Through the Standing Committee on Chemicals, Australian governments have developed a new industry tool that will provide guidance to small and large enterprises in Australia as they start and grow chemicals and plastics businesses.
The Chemicals Business Checklist is the result of collaboration between industry and different government jurisdictions. It is a new tool that has been designed to assist small, medium and large enterprises navigate the requirements for both establishing and expanding chemicals businesses.
The Checklist includes a comprehensive contacts list to direct businesses to the relevant regulatory body or government agency and encourages them to consider the full life-cycle management of chemicals and plastics.
The Checklist also features whole-of-system information about chemicals and plastics regulation in a simple format that directs users to relevant information to ensure chemicals businesses are safe, sustainable and compliant. The Checklist is relevant to anyone working in the chemicals and plastics industry—including those involved in importing, manufacturing, using, handling, transporting or disposing of chemicals.
The chemicals industry is an important contributor to many aspects of the economy and it is important to continue the safe and responsible management of chemicals.
The Checklist covers a range of relevant topics, including:
- Understanding chemical products
- Manufacturing, importing and exporting chemical products
- Labelling and packaging requirements
- Work health and safety requirements
- Transporting chemical products
- Disposing of chemical waste
- Chemicals of security concern and chemicals that are illicit drug precursors.
You can find the checklist at: www.industry.gov.au/industry/chemicalsandplastics/RelatedLinks/Pages/Chemicals-Business-Checklist.aspx and other links at: www.industry.gov.au/industry/chemicalsandplastics/Pages/default.aspx
'I FORMULATE / BLEND INDUSTRIAL CHEMICALS—
DO I NEED TO REGISTER WITH NICNAS?'
Organisations involved in formulating or blending operations need to determine whether or not their activity results in a chemical reaction or chemical change.
If the chemicals at the start of the process are the same as the ones at the end, then no new chemicals have been 'manufactured', and the NICNAS registration requirement does not apply to the process. Products such as paints, cosmetics, and cleaning agents are often formulated in this manner.
In other cases, combining the ingredients results in the creation of a new chemical. A common example of this is soap manufacture in which fats/oils are combined with sodium hydroxide to produce soap. At the end of the process, the starting materials are consumed and the chemical reaction has resulted in the manufacture of soap (a different chemical to the starting materials). Where a new chemical is manufactured, you do need to register with NICNAS as an introducer.
It is important to note that while some blending operations may not result in the manufacture of a new chemical, the requirements outlined in the Cosmetic Standard 2007 and the NICNAS Cosmetics Guidelines apply to formulators of cosmetic products.
For more information, please contact the NICNAS Registration Team on 1800 638 528 or via e-mail to email@example.com.
New website images represent NICNAS's focus
NICNAS's website was reworked during the past quarter, and now features revolving images that reflect the areas of responsibility of our work:
Public health, Worker health, Environment and a more traditional view of the chemicals industry:
Since NICNAS's new website was launched at the end of 2012-13, staff have been working non-stop on it, with a long list of refinements, adjustments and 'tweaks' planned. These will see the website become even easier to navigate, and material on it updated and refreshed at an even faster rate.
Inputs—many related to navigation, content and format—have been sourced from several areas, and other suggestions have been made in 'phone and email conversations with frequent users. A major source of suggestions will be NICNAS's recently-conducted Stakeholder Survey (see item below), in which we asked participants for comments about the website and provided opportunities for 'free text' inputs and comments about it.
If you have additional suggestions about the website, or ideas that you believe could improve its functionality, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org at any time (marked 'Website suggestion').
IMAP—please see next item or the Consultations page.
IMAP UPDATE—RELEASE OF TRANCHES FIVE, SIX
NICNAS is now in the second year of implementing the framework for assessing and prioritising previously un-assessed chemicals that are listed on the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances (AICS).
The Inventory Multi-tiered Assessment and Prioritisation (IMAP) Framework—being implemented in stages—focuses on a subset of chemicals on AICS that meets characteristics confirmed through stakeholder consultation. This new framework is producing information about the hazards and risks associated with the use of industrial chemicals and identifies chemicals which may require further risk mitigation to ensure safe use.
IMAP assessments to date
As reported in the Annual Report 2012-13, in the first year of IMAP we completed 984 assessments for a total of 723 chemicals (261 were assessed for both human health and environmental impacts).
NICNAS intends to publish a total of five tranches of assessments in 2013-14. Two have already been published:
- Tranche Five—published on 13 September 2013: 141 chemical assessments
- Tranche Six—published on 18 November 2013: 140 chemical assessments.
NICNAS's IMAP staff are now working on the three additional tranches for the year:
- Tranche Seven—to be published in January/February 2014
- Tranche Eight—to be published in April 2014
- Tranche Nine—to be published in June 2014.
The sixth tranche of assessment reports includes both human health and environmental assessments for more of the Stage One chemicals—see:www.nicnas.gov.au/chemical-information/imap-assessments/imap-assessments/public-comment
If you are interested, you have an opportunity to comment on the draft versions of all IMAP assessment reports after their release. The public comment period is normally for six weeks, but due to the timing of the release of Tranche Six reports and the holiday season, the public comment period for Tranche Six has been extended until close of business on 17 January 2014.
Comments should be provided using the IMAP public comment form, which also provides guidance on submitting comments.
A summary of past public comments is now also available. These are the comments that were provided for Tranche Four chemicals (published June 2013), as well as NICNAS's response to the comments—and amended Tier II assessment reports, where required.
Assessments which have been reviewed—in consideration of additional information—will also be updated.
An updated version of the Stage One chemicals list, including up-to-date assessment status information for each chemical and listing additional chemicals identified for assessment during Stage One, is available; it can also be accessed through the December 2013 Chemical Gazette. The additional chemicals are chemicals that can be rapidly assessed for either (or both) human health and environmental risks because they are included in a group of chemicals already being assessed in Stage One.
TRAINING, OUTREACH SESSIONS
New Chemicals notifiers workshop
NICNAS is seeking expressions of interest from those wishing to attend a workshop for new chemical notifiers to be held in early 2014. This free information session is intended to provide notifiers with an opportunity to hone their skills in preparing new chemical notifications. It will also be an opportunity for notifiers to meet with NICNAS assessors and to ask questions on new chemicals notification matters.
The topics that are intended to be covered on this day include two presentations in the morning:
- overview of new chemical notification categories, and
- the NICNAS approach to risk assessment.
In the afternoon, there will be a session looking at various issues around data requirements, use of analogues, and other issues regarding new chemicals submissions.
If you are interested in attending, please email email@example.com indicating whether you would like to attend the whole day workshop, the morning session or the afternoon session only, and your location (capital city).
Please send responses by 15 January 2014. Alternatively, you can complete and submit the expression of interest form from our website.
We will advise those who have expressed interest of confirmed dates and venues in late January 2014.
NICNAS industry and customs broker training seminars
NICNAS conducts free training and awareness sessions each year. These training sessions are open to all interested stakeholders, such as registered chemical introducers, regulatory consultants and customs brokers.
The planned 2014 schedule* is: Brisbane: 27 February, Melbourne: 27 March, Sydney 10 April
If you wish to attend please provide your name; industry/company; number of attendees and preferred city, and email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Once we have received your expression-of-interest, NICNAS officers will contact you two weeks before the training date with a confirmation of venue and sessions details.
If you have any further inquiries about industry training, please contact us on:
Phone: 02 8577 8800 Freecall: 1800 638 528 Email: email@example.com
* A new schedule, with additional training dates and venues, will be confirmed soon and posted on the NICNAS website at: www.nicnas.gov.au/regulation-and-compliance/training-sessions
NICNAS's latest stakeholder survey was conducted during the three weeks commencing 28 October 2013.
Thank you to the many registrants and others who participated in the survey—more than 20% of stakeholders accepted the invitation to participate.
This response rate provides us with a representative range of views on many matters, and will be the basis for improvements and changes over the coming year.
Thanks again to one and all.
NAME THE CHEMICAL
Using the following clues, can you guess the name of this chemical
... It was given its current name in honour of the land of birth of one of its co-discoverers (as a way of publicising that country's lack of independence at the time)
… It was produced as part of the United Sates' Manhattan Project (a research and development project that produced the first atomic bombs during World War II)
… It was discovered in tobacco smoke in the 1960s–but tobacco companies have never found a way to remove it from tobacco smoke
… It is chemically similar to tellurium and bismuth
… It can be used to eliminate static electricity caused by processes such as the rolling of paper, wire or sheet metal in machinery
… It is believed to be the cause of the 2006 death of Alexander Litvinenko, who died after eating sushi laced with the chemical in Piccadilly, London
… On 7 November 2013, it was reported to have been the cause of the 2004 death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (though this theory has since been rejected)
… It is number 84 on the periodic table.
See the answer at the end of this newsletter.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Closure of NICNAS office: 24 December 2013 (3.00 pm)–1 January 2014 (inclusive): NICNAS office closed. NICNAS office reopens 2 January 2014.
2-5: Australian Science Communicators National Conference, Brisbane QLD
2-6: ICONN 2014: Nanoscience and nanotechnology, Adelaide SA
27: NICNAS Industry Training session and Customs Broker seminar, Brisbane QLD
(TBC): Categorisation of Nanomaterials, Washington USA
25: Industry Government Consultative Committee (IGCC 48), Sydney NSW
27: NICNAS Industry Training session and Customs Broker seminar, Melbourne VIC
10: NICNAS Industry Training session and Customs Broker seminar, Sydney NSW
14-15, Hazmat 2014: Achieving a productive and resilient industry, Darebin Arts and Entertainment Centre, Preston VIC
16-24: National Science Week, events being planned around Australia
* The science of condensed matter, with an emphasis on the atomic or molecular structure and its relation to physical and chemical properties. University of Melbourne International Year of Crystallography events—running from March to September 2014—are listed at: http://science.unimelb.edu.au/crystallography
The annual reports of both the (entire) Department of Health and Ageing (now Department of Health) and of the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) were tabled at the end of October.
On-line versions of the reports are available at:
Draft Priority Existing Chemical (PEC) assessment report for (DMP)
Dimethyl phthalate (DMP) factsheet - DRAFT
Portfolio budget statements
Departmental of Health Portfolio Budget Statements 2013-14 noting that NICNAS's activities are reported under 'Outcome One'
Most NICNAS webpages are new, significantly updated or re-styled.
However, you may be particularly interested in the Issues pages on:
Nanomaterials / Nanotechnology (which includes new information sheets), and
Fracking / Hydraulic fracturing (Coal Seam Gas extraction).
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
In the last quarter, journalists and general inquirers have been particularly interested in two issues: tattoo inks and matters related to the use of chemicals in coal seam gas extraction (fracking).
Chemicals associated with coal seam gas extraction (fracking)
NICNAS is leading the national assessment of chemicals associated with coal seam gas extraction. The project aims to identify the chemicals associated with coal seam gas extraction in Australia.
A voluntary industry survey was the primary tool to identify these chemicals. In addition, a comprehensive review of both national and international literature is being prepared by the agencies involved in the project: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Department of the Environment, Geoscience Australia. The project is funded by the Australian Government's Office of Water Science.
More information about this project is available on the NICNAS information page (and attached information sheets) at: www.nicnas.gov.au/communications/issues/fracking-hydraulic-fracturing-coal-seam-gas-extraction
We expect the project to be completed in 2014.
Chemicals used in tattoo inks
Chemicals used in tattoo inks are classified as industrial chemicals. Therefore they are subject to the same requirements as any other industrial chemical under the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 (the Act).
If a chemical used in a tattoo ink is already listed on the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances (AICS—www.nicnas.gov.au/regulation-and-compliance/aics) then in general the chemical is not subject to any intervention by NICNAS as it enters Australia.
However, if the chemical is not on the AICS—which means it is a 'new' chemical—the Act prescribes whether a pre-market assessment (as a 'new' chemical) is required.
Note: NICNAS assesses the impacts to human health, worker safety and the environment of 'new' industrial chemicals, including chemicals in formulations such as tattoo and other inks, and makes recommendations regarding their regulation. NICNAS does not test individual consumer products.
Persons who commercially import industrial chemicals into Australia (or manufacture them in Australia) need to be registered with NICNAS. However, registration of an importer is unrelated to whether or not a chemical needs to be assessed.
STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT REVIEW
NICNAS is reviewing its current stakeholder engagement arrangements with the aim of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of its engagement model. This review is consistent with the government's commitment to a smaller and more efficient bureaucracy and rationalisation of advisory groups (www.pm.gov.au/media/2013-11-08/press-conference-melbourne).
A discussion paper will be published on the NICNAS website in 2014, followed by a period of public consultation. The discussion paper will aim to assist stakeholders to understand the objectives of the review—as well as the framework within which the review will be conducted—and assist them in providing feedback to NICNAS.
Stakeholders will be invited to comment on questions raised in the paper and/or any other matters stakeholders consider should be taken into account in considering options for engagement.
During this consultation period, NICNAS will be available for face-to-face discussions with interested stakeholders.
The comments received from this consultation process will be used to develop a final draft stakeholder engagement model that will be subject to further consultation in mid-2014.
Answer to NAME THE CHEMICAL: Polonium
© Commonwealth of Australia 2013
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without prior written permission from the National Industrial Chemicals Notification Scheme. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to: Head, BMC Program, National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme, GPO Box 58, Sydney NSW 2001 AUSTRALIABack to top