Hazardous substances and the EPA

What do toothpaste, explosives, veterinary medicine and solvents have in common? They are all classified as hazardous substances, which we regulate.

Hazardous substances are any chemical, or mixture of chemicals, that meets hazardous classification criteria. These criteria include: explosiveness, flammability, toxicity to people, ability to cause cancer, toxicity to the environment and their ability to generate a different hazardous substance on contact with air or water.

Hazardous substances–including petrol, solvents, explosives, industrial chemicals, fireworks, agrichemicals, household cleaners and cosmetics—need to be approved before they can be used in New Zealand.

The role of the EPA

Our role is to regulate pesticides, household chemicals and other dangerous goods and substances under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act. This means we make decisions on whether to approve new hazardous substances. We put rules in place called controls to manage the risks of hazardous substances and to safeguard people and the environment.

Our approvals for hazardous substances are recorded in the HSNO application register, which is one of the databases published on our website. We do not provide certification of previous approvals and we will not issue registration certificates, composition certificates, or the like. We are willing to engage with other regulatory authorities, if necessary, so that they can understand the New Zealand regulatory regime, but in general anyone can access our HSNO application register and confirm for themselves whether a substance is approved or not.

As well as evaluating and approving substances, we can reassess substances and make new decisions about whether the controls need to be updated, or whether the substance needs to be banned.

We also administer hazardous waste and ozone-depleting substances.

If you want some advice on using chemicals in the home, have a look at our Everyday environment section.

The role of WorkSafe New Zealand

WorkSafe New Zealand administer the rules for the use of hazardous substances in the workplace. If you intend to use hazardous substances in the workplace, we recommend you talk to them.

We're happy to answer your questions

Navigating the regulations on such a wide range of products can be complicated. That’s why we have a lot of advice on this site for you, but please get in touch if you need more help.