New chemicals reported 2016-2017

Section 21 of the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 (the Act) allows for the introduction of new chemicals into Australia provided the chemicals meet certain requirements stipulated in subsections 21(4) and 21(6) of the Act. New chemicals which satisfy the requirements of subsections 21(4) and 21(6) are exempt from the notification requirements of the legislation. A summary of the exemption categories and their criteria for use is provided in Table 1.

Table 1. Exemption categories

Exemption description

Criteria for use

≤100 kg Cosmetic exemption

  • Introduced quantity cannot exceed 100 kg in any 12 month period.
  • Introducer must be satisfied that the chemical poses no unreasonable risk to the public, workers exposed to the chemical, or the environment.

≤100 kg Non-Cosmetic exemption

  • Chemical cannot be for cosmetic use.
  • Introduced quantity cannot exceed 100 kg in any 12 month period.
  • Introducer must be satisfied that the chemical poses no unreasonable risk to the public, workers exposed to the chemical, or the environment.

1% Non-Hazardous cosmetic exemption

  • Chemical must be introduced in a finished cosmetic product at no greater than 1%.
  • Chemical must be a non-hazardous chemical as defined by the Act.

≤100 kg Research and development exemption

  • Introduced quantity cannot exceed 100 kg in any 12 month period.
  • Chemical must be introduced solely for the purpose of research, development, and analysis.

Transshipment exemption

  • Chemical must remain under the control of Customs at all times before leaving Australia.
  • Chemical must leave Australia within 30 days.

Industrial chemical introducers are required to report to NICNAS every year on any chemical introduced under these exemption provisions (section 21AA). Reported information on these chemicals provided during 2016-17 has been collated and the following is a detailed summary of this information.

Number of chemicals introduced

A total of 10146 new chemicals were reported during 2016-17 as being introduced under the exemption provisions during the previous registration year. This includes 2439 chemicals reported as being introduced at up to 10 kg for which no chemical name or other details were provided. The distribution of all reported chemicals among the five exemption categories is shown in Figure 1.

Fully reported exempt chemicals by category 206-17Use of chemicals introduced

Cosmetic chemicals represent 75% of all chemicals reported under the exemption provisions with over half of these cosmetic chemicals (56%) being introduced under the 1% non-hazardous cosmetic exemption category.

Of the chemicals for which full details were reported (identity and use category), Education, Research & Development, Other, Surface Coatings, the Printing Industry and Photographic represent the most common non-cosmetic chemical use categories. These use categories account for 76% of all chemicals reported for non-cosmetic uses. The distribution of chemicals introduced under the non-cosmetic exemption provisions across various use categories is illustrated in Figure 2.

Industry distribution of non-cosmetic exempt chemicals 2016-17Quantities introduced

To reduce the burden on reporting introducers, the exact quantity of an introduced exempt chemical is not required. Introducers are however required to report a quantity range for each chemical (0-10 kg, >10-100 kg, >100 kg). The distribution of fully reported chemicals across these quantity ranges are provided in Table 2.

Table 2. Distribution of Fully Reported Chemicals by Quantity

Quantity Description

Number of Chemicals

Up to 10 kg


>10-100 kg


>100 kg (Transshipment or up to1% Cosmetic)


>100 kg


66% of all reported chemicals were introduced at quantities of 10 kg or less. 22 chemicals (0.3%) were reported as exceeding the 100 kg threshold in either the 100 kg cosmetic, research and development or non-cosmetic exemption category. Instances of non-compliance associated with these chemicals have been managed as a self-reported breaches of the legislation.

Chemicals not previously reported

Approximately 12.37%  of  reported chemicals were reported for the first time in 2016-17 based on chemicals for which a CAS number was provided.

Reporting organisations

A total of 212 organisations provided information on exempt category chemicals. A summary of the number of chemicals reported by these organisations is provided in Table 3.

Table 3. Number of Chemicals Reported per Organisation

Number of chemicals introduced under exemptions

1 - 10

11 - 20



> 100

Number of organisations






53% of reporting organisations reported ten or less chemicals being introduced under the exemption provisions. 7% of reporting organisations reported greater than 100 chemicals.

Common chemicals

During the annual reporting year 995 chemicals were reported by multiple introducers.

Number of organisations

2 – 5

6 – 10

11 – 15


Number of common chemicals introduced





1 chemical was reported independently by 25 and 33 organisations.

Last update 17 August 2018