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What is a hazardous substance?

A hazardous substance is any substance that has one or more of the following properties above specified levels:

  • an explosive nature (including fireworks)
  • flammability
  • ability to oxidise (i.e. accelerate a fire)
  • corrosiveness
  • acute or chronic toxicity (toxic to humans)
  • ecotoxicity, with or without bioaccumulation (i.e. can kill living things either directly or by building up in the environment)
  • can generate a hazardous substance on contact with air or water.

Hazardous substances can have more than one hazardous property. For example, methylated spirits and petrol are flammable and toxic.

This page will help you find out whether your substance is hazardous, if it is already approved, or if it will need an approval.

Determining whether a substance is hazardous

For deciding whether a substance is hazardous, see:

Assigning a Hazardous Substance to a Group Standard (pdf, 2.1 MB)

- Includes step-by-step guidance

User Guide to the HSNO Thresholds and Classifications
      (pdf, 7065 kb)

Correlation between GHS and NZ HSNO hazard classes and
      categories (pdf, 121 kb)

Request the status of a substance

If you prefer, you can ask us for informal advice regarding the status of your substance. There is a small fee for this service. the advice we provide will determine:

  • Whether or not a substance is hazardous
  • Whether the substance is covered by an existing approval
  • Whether a new approval is required
  • What the hazard classifications of the substance are if it is already approved.


Which substances are exempt?

You do not need to make an application for some specified hazardous substances or substances used in an exempt laboratory. For more information see: