(a) decision-making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations.
NICNAS operates within an agreed framework for the environmentally sound management of chemicals, consistent with the National Strategy for ESD and its principles and policies. This framework aligns with the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) Agenda 21 (Rio Declaration), of which Chapter 19 relates to the Environmentally Sound Management of Toxic Chemicals.
All NICNAS risk assessments are undertaken within an internationally agreed policy framework that comprises a hazard assessment, dose-response relationships, exposure assessment and risk assessment including risk management options. The hazard assessment identifies the intrinsic ability of the chemical to cause harm to human health and/or the environment. The potential for exposure of human and environmental species is ascertained for each chemical based on its known or anticipated use pattern. The risk assessment integrates both the hazard assessment and exposure assessment to make a risk estimate and risk management strategies where unacceptable risks are identified.
In recommending risk management strategies, economic and social benefit is balanced with the economic, political and social costs of implementing the strategies. Risk management also involves monitoring, evaluating and reviewing the strategies recommended.
(b) if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.
The Precautionary Principle is the guiding principle for health and environmental risk assessments and forms the basis of the science-based risk assessment for industrial chemicals. This principle is applied in particular where international chemicals policy negotiations may need to rely on precaution. Caution is applied in line with the principles of ESD and the UNCED Agenda 21, Principle 15 (precautionary approach).
(c) the principle of inter-generational equity that the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations and (d) the conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental consideration in decision making.
The aim of the NICNAS risk assessment aims to preserve the integrity of the environment and its biodiversity. The known or anticipated use pattern of the chemical is characterised within the context of the risk assessment taking into account Australias demography, national ecosystems including fauna and flora.
The outcome of the NICNAS assessment provides the information necessary for informed objective and transparent decision-making including trade-offs between competing objectives of current utility and future adverse environmental effects.
(e) improved valuation pricing and incentive mechanisms should be promoted.
The NICNAS Low Regulatory Concern Chemicals (LRCC) reforms implemented in 2005-06 include strategies that encourage the introduction of less hazardous chemicals that pose a lower risk to the environment. Promotion of innovative new technologies through direct financial incentives for chemicals that pose a lower regulatory risk will result in a more sustainable overall regulatory framework as well as a more sustainable chemical industry in Australia