Existing Chemicals



  NICNAS undertakes assessments of chemicals already in use in Australia
under the Existing Chemicals program. Appendix 08 details the types
of assessments that are undertaken in the Existing Chemicals program.

During 2003-04, two full risk assessments of PEC were published, and one
assessment conducted under secondary notification provisions of the Act
was published. Thirty other assessments were also completed. These
included 17 assessments examining hazard classifications, seven exposure
assessments, five assessments examining poisons scheduling, and a safety
alert. The assessments are detailed in Table 8, and also in Appendix 11.
In addition, a preliminary screening was undertaken of thirty chemicals
belonging to the group of chemicals known as phthalates, in preparation
for possible regulatory action in 2004-05.

A target of three full assessments and ten other assessments was set
for the year 2003-04 to maintain the output target rate of 50 chemicals
assessed over a three-year period, which was set out as a performance
indicator in the DoHA PBS 2003-04 and incorporated into the NICNAS
Business Plan 2003-04. This target was met for the full assessments and
in the case of other assessments the target was substantially exceeded
(by 300 per cent).

Assessment outputs for 2003-04 are summarised in Table 9 and are
compared with last yearís activity. The five-year trend is shown in Figure 13.

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Statutory timelines exist in relation to existing chemical full risk and
preliminary assessments and secondary notification assessments. These
include compulsory deadlines, mandated by the Act, for applicant and public
comment on draft reports, the Directorís response to requests for variations
to the draft report, and for completion of an assessment. These timelines
were all met in 2003-04.

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To help ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the Australian
Governmentís approach to the regulation of chemicals, NICNAS has
continued to work with other government agencies involved with the
assessment and management of chemicals. In 2003-04, NICNAS contributed
technical scientific expertise to a significant number of government projects
involving existing industrial chemicals.
  Seventeen chemicals commonly used in skin patch testing for allergic
dermatitis, but unclassified as to their hazard in Australia, were assessed
by NICNAS against NOHSC criterion for sensitisation. Recommendations
were made to NOHSC to classify eight of the 17 chemicals as sensitisers.
NICNAS also presented five public health evaluation reports to the 40th
and 41st meetings of the NDPSC, regarding the proposed scheduling of
chemicals under the SUSDP. The reports covered a range of issues related
to hazard and risk associated with specific applications of the chemical.
The evaluations were discussed by the Committee and all the NICNAS
recommendations accepted.

NICNAS contributed technical expertise to the Australian Government's
National Dioxins Program, a four-year activity set up to assess and manage
the release of dioxins and dioxin-like substances in Australia. NICNAS
assessed total atmospheric dioxin levels and provided an overall assessment
of inhalation exposure to dioxins for different population subgroups.

The NICNAS assessment was incorporated into a human health risk
assessment of dioxins in Australia, published as Technical Report No. 12
by the National Dioxins Program in May 2004.

NICNAS has also contributed technical expertise to the National
Environmental Protection Councilís development of an Air Toxics National
Environmental Protection Measure. NICNAS is a member of the NOHSC
Chemicals Standing Sub-committee and has also contributed to working
groups of this Committee.

Continuing an initiative by NICNAS to produce targeted, concise and easily
accessible information products on chemicals of concern, in 2003-04
NICNAS produced Safety Information Sheets on two fuel additives that
had been assessed as PEC. These products are designed for display in
the workplace, and were distributed to industry and unions, as well as made
available on the NICNAS website. In addition, a NICNAS Alert was prepared
on the use of methylene chloride in paint stripping. The Alert stresses the
need for caution when using methylene chloride and details how to use the
chemical safely for paint stripping. The Alert was produced following two
workplace deaths in 2003, when methylene chloride was used in open tanks
for stripping paint from furniture. Also, an Information Sheet on methylene
chloride summarising the health effects of the chemical was produced
and published on the NICNAS website.
  PEC reports make recommendations for the elimination or reduction
of hazards and risks associated with chemical use. The number of
recommendations made in PEC reports published up to June 2004 is shown
in Table 10. During the last three years, NICNAS has actively worked with
NOHSC to encourage take-up of PEC recommendations directed to NOHSC.
The majority of these recommendations relate to hazard classification
and exposure standards. By the end of 2003-04, 90 per cent of a total of 53
recommendations to NOHSC had either been taken up or were under

An additional 43 recommendations were made in the other assessments
completed in 2003-04. Target areas of the recommendations are shown
in Table 11. In addition, NICNAS contributed to the making of several
recommendations made in 2003-04 by the National Dioxins Program
as a result of a human health risk assessment. This included five
recommendations relating to the management of potential health risks.

Considerable input by the Existing Chemicals Teams was made in 2003-04
to a major review of the Existing Chemicals program, which formally
commenced with the convening of the first meeting of the RSC
in November 2003. The review is reported on in full in the Reform Chapter
of this report.

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The continuing focus of the Existing Chemicals Program on different types
of assessments has resulted in a doubling of the numbers of assessments
completed this year, as compared to 2002-03. Utilization of overseas
assessment reports continues to provide savings in resources that might
otherwise be spent conducting full assessments of chemicals of concern.
Where international assessments on a chemical of concern in Australia
already exist, information sheets or alerts may be considered a more
appropriate way to address concerns. Five international assessments were
consulted and used in the preparation of three assessments prepared
in 2003-04.



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