Is my substance a chemical?
While chemicals exist in many forms, NICNAS defines a 'chemical' according to the meaning given in the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment Act 1989 (ICNA Act).
According to the ICNA Act, a chemical can be:
- a chemical element, including a chemical element contained in a mixture. Examples include:
- a compound or complex of a chemical element, including such a compound or complex contained in a mixture. Examples include:
- a chemical of unknown or variable composition, complex reaction products or biological material—otherwise known as a UVCB. Examples include:
- an unknown or variable composition substance, such as chlorinated paraffin sodium sulfonate, where the degree of chlorination varies
- a complex product of a chemical reaction, such as tall oil products in reaction with diethanolamine, where the product of a chemical reaction is in a mixture with its reactants
- biological material (except if is a whole plant or a whole animal).
- a naturally-occurring chemical, meaning an unprocessed chemical occurring in nature, or a chemical occurring in nature that has been extracted from the parent material through certain defined processes without chemical change. Examples include:
- a naturally-occurring biological chemical
- an inorganic chemical in soil
- a mineral extracted from ore by a physical process such as dissolution or flotation.
What is not a chemical
The ICNA Act also sets out what is not considered a chemical:
- an article. This means an item which, due to its use, has been manufactured into a certain shape or design, and which does not change its chemical composition during use. Examples include:
- steel ball bearings
- compound plastic pipe
- a radioactive chemical, meaning a chemical with a specific activity greater than 35 becquerels/g.
- a mixture. This means a physical combination of chemicals resulting from deliberate mixing or from chemical reactions, but not a UVCB. However, the components within the mixture may be relevant industrial chemicals.
Last update 25 October 2019