Chemicals are part of our daily lives. Not only do they improve our lifestyle, but chemicals also boost industrial and agricultural productivity and help control diseases.
Good chemicals management protects our environment and Australian communities. It helps prevent pollution, supports industry and safeguards future generations against contamination and costly clean-ups.
If chemicals aren’t properly managed, they can put our environment in danger and damage our health.
We are strengthening our chemical laws to prevent pollution and further protect our land, air, waterways and communities from hazardous substances. We’re doing this by putting sound chemicals frameworks into Australian law.
We assess the environmental impacts of chemicals, develop guidance on managing chemicals of concern and work with businesses to improve the way chemicals are managed.
We also take part in international conventions and forums where countries agree to manage chemicals in a specific way.
Chemicals of concern
Chemicals have widespread use and eventually make their way into the environment. They are found in water, air and soil, and plants, animals and people can be exposed to them.
While most chemicals don’t involve high risks to the environment, some can cause serious harm. Some chemicals don’t break down easily and last for a long time. Some are toxic and can build up in animals.
While this sometimes causes immediate harm, it can also lead to subtle degradation of environmental and human health over time and by the time effects are realised, it can be too late to prevent serious damage.
We’ve prepared information to help you understand chemicals of concern to the environment, such as:
We carry out risk assessments to determine how chemicals will impact the environment at various stages of the chemical life cycle. This helps us predict how Australia’s unique ecosystems will respond if they’re exposed to chemicals, so we can recommend the best way to manage risks.
Our work helps industry and chemical regulators manage manufacturing and import of substances, and improve regulations for use, storage, handling and disposal of chemicals in Australia.
We’ve introduced the Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management Standard – or IChEMS - to manage the environmental risks from industrial chemicals.
Our work with industry and environment agencies to implement IChEMS Australia-wide aims to deliver more streamlined, nationally consistent, efficient regulation, leading to stronger environmental protection.
Australia participates in a range of international conventions and forums that control the use and release of chemicals into the environment.