EPA ramps up chemical reassessments programme

15 October 2018

We are making changes to the way some chemicals are managed in New Zealand.

We are ramping up our reassessments programme and taking action on some chemicals to ensure risks to people and the environment continue to be managed effectively.
As New Zealand’s independent regulator we manage the regulation, approval and reassessment of chemicals classed as hazardous substances under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act.

Working with international counterparts we have identified a priority chemicals list of around 40 chemicals that require review and scrutiny.
This will involve reviewing the rules that apply to those chemicals to ensure risks to people and the environment continue to be managed effectively, providing greater confidence for New Zealanders that the we are properly managing their health and environmental concerns on their behalf and on behalf of future generations.
“This is an extensive and important programme of work that goes to the heart of keeping New Zealand and New Zealanders safe,” says EPA Chief Executive Dr Allan Freeth.
“It is designed to lay the foundations for a modern chemical management system; one supported by robust and up-to-date evidence and data, and which aligns with the standards, knowledge and practices recognised by our regulatory partners globally.

“Industry groups, importers, manufacturers and our trading partners will also enjoy greater consumer and international confidence in the way New Zealand manages its chemical regime.

“Our worldwide knowledge about chemicals and their effects increases every day through advances in science and technology.
“At times, new information may indicate a chemical poses more risks than existed, or that we knew of, at the time it was originally approved for use in New Zealand.
“But when an approval is granted for a chemical to be used in New Zealand that approval does not expire. The only legal way it can be amended or revoked is when the EPA, or an interested party, takes formal action.
“The EPA did this in April 2017 when it reassessed five approvals for the pesticide chlorothalonil.  At that time it revoked four of those approvals for domestic use and restricted a fifth approval to commercial use only.”
As part of the programme, grounds for reassessment have already been established for the herbicide paraquat, and a call for information has been completed. Further grounds for other chemicals on the priority list are being prepared for consideration by an EPA decision-making committee in the near future.
Reassessments can be complex, lengthy and some may cost more than $1 million. We are funding this initial reassessment work by reprioritising its current expenditure, and are in discussion with the government on longer-term funding.