The Hazardous Substances New Organisms Act And You

Hazardous substances are an essential part of our daily lives – dishwasher detergents, methylated spirits, bleaches and petrol can all be dangerous or poisonous. Many hazardous substances are used in manufacturing and other business activities.

If you use hazardous substances in your business, or if you import or manufacture them to sell to others, the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act is likely to affect you.

If you are concerned about how hazardous substances might affect our health and environment, you should know about the HSNO Act and how it works. Under the HSNO Act, a hazardous substance is any substance that exceeds the level defined in regulations of any of the following properties:

  • an explosive nature (including substances, articles and pyrotechnics such as fireworks).
  • flammability.
  • ability to oxidise (that is, to accelerate a fire).
  • corrosiveness.
  • acute or chronic toxicity.
  • ecotoxicity, with or without bioaccumulation (that is, it can kill living things either directly or by building up in the environment).
  • can generate a hazardous substance on contact with air or water.

The HSNO Act also controls compressed gas containers, whether or not the gas itself is hazardous.

In reality, most hazardous substances have more than one hazardous property, that is, they are hazardous in a number of ways. For example, methylated spirits and petrol are not only flammable but also toxic. Some common garden pesticides not only kill garden pests but also beneficial organisms, and may be toxic to humans.

Anyone who uses or is involved with hazardous substances needs good information on their potential risks and how to use them safely. The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act provides a platform for completely assessing a hazardous substance so that


Example of Hazardous Substances

Some examples of hazardous substances are:

  • olvents, for example dry-cleaning fluid or paint
  • Printing inks and dyes.
  • Resins.
  • Adhesives.
  • Paints.