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The following information relates to specific chemicals that are of high consequence or concern, as well as information on handling dangerous goods. You must have an understanding of your responsibilities in regards to safe chemical management, including procurement, storage, use and disposal and the required procedures for risk and emergency mitigation.

  • Ammonium nitrate

    Holdings of Chemicals of security concern, including Ammonium Nitrate fertilisers, must be secured, and stocks regularly reconciled to detect theft or diversion. Refer to WA Department of Mines: Ammonium nitrate.

  • Carcinogens, mutagens and teratogens

    The UWA Carcinogenic and Mutagenic Substances Committee and State Government's WorkSafe must approve the use of substances listed in Tables 10.1. 10.2 and 10.3 of the Work, Health and Safety (General) Regulations 2022.

    List of carcinogenic and mutagenic substances

    This list of substances does not comprehensively cover potential or known carcinogens, and the onus is on the individual researchers to do thorough risk assessments and treat all chemicals with caution. For guidance, see the ChemAlert, Material Safety Data Sheet(s) for the chemical(s) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer

    Schedule 10.1 Prohibited Carcinogenic substances to be used only for bona fide research [Regulation 340] 

    Note: The number in square brackets is the substance's chemical abstract (CAS) number. 

    • 2-Acetylaminofluorene [53 96 3] 

    • Aflatoxins 

    • 4-Aminodiphenyl [92 67 1] 

    • Benzidine [92 87 5] and its salts (including benzidine dihydrochloride [531 85 1]) 

    • bis(chloromethyl) ether [542 88 1] 

    • Chloromethyl methyl ether [107 30 2] (technical grade containing bis(chloromethyl) ether) 

    • 4-Dimethylaminoazobenzene [60 11 7] 

    • 2-Naphthylamine [91 59 8] and its salts 

    • 4-Nitrodiphenyl [92 93 3] 

    Schedule 10.2  Restricted Carcinogenic substances to be used only for purposes approved by the Commissioner [Regulation 381]. 

    Note: The substance's chemical abstract number appears in square brackets. 

    • Acrylonitrile [107 13 1] 

    • Benzene [71 43 2] when used as a feedstock and containing more than 50 per cent of benzene by volume 

    • Cyclophosphamide [50 18 0] (cytotoxic drug) when used in preparation for therapeutic use in hospitals and oncological treatment facilities and in manufacturing operations 

    • 3,3-Dichlorobenzidine [91 94 1] and its salts (including 3,3-dichlorobenzidine dihydrochloride [612 83 9] 

    • Diethyl sulfate [64 67 5] 

    • Dimethyl sulfate [77 78 1] 

    • Ethylene dibromide [106 93 4] when used as a fumigant 

    • 4.43 Methylene bis(2-chloroaniline) [101 14 4] MOCA 

    • Beta-Propiolactone [57 57 8] (2-propiolactone) 

    • o-Toluidine [95 53 4] and o-Toluidine hydrochloride [636 21 5] 

    • Vinyl chloride monomer [75 01 4] 

    Schedule 10.3 Restricted Hazardous substances [Regulation 382].

    The following substances are restricted from use in abrasive blasting:

    • Antimony and its compounds at or over a concentration of 0.1% as antimony.
    • Benzene (benzol) for spray painting at a concentration at or over 1% of benzene.
    • Beryllium and its compounds at or over a concentration of 0.1% as beryllium.
    • Cadmium and its compounds.
    • Chromate (for wet abrasive blasting).
    • Chromium and its compounds at or over a concentration of 0.5% (except as specified for wet blasting) as chromium.
    • Cobalt and its compounds at or over a concentration of 0.1% as cobalt.
    • Free silica (crystalline silica dioxide) over a concentration of 1%.
    • Lead and its compounds at or over a concentration of 0.1% as lead or which would expose the operator to levels in excess of those set in the regulations covering lead.
    • Nickel and its compounds at or over a concentration of 0.1% as nickel.
    • Nitrates for wet abrasive blasting.
    • Nitrites for wet abrasive blasting.
    • Radioactive substance of any kind where radiation exceeds 1 Bq/g (as far as reasonably practicable).
    • Tin and its compounds at or over a concentration of 0.1% as tin.

    The following substances are restricted from use in spray painting:

    • Arsenic and its compounds.
    • Benzene (benzol) at or above 1% by volume.
    • Carbon disulphide (carbon bisulphide).
    • Lead carbonate.
    • Methanol (methyl alcohol), and its compounds at concentrations over 1% by volume.
    • Tetrachloromethane (Carbon tetrachloride).
    • Tetrachloroethane.
    • Tributyl tin

    Assessing risk and ensuring safety

    Chief investigators must gain approval to use carcinogenic substances listed in the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations in research. 

    Responsibility for the health and safety aspects of a research project rests with the project's chief investigator, who must ensure that comprehensive risk assessments are performed, adequate facilities are available and suitable procedures are adopted to conduct the research in a safe manner. 

    Alternatives to the use of potent carcinogens, mutagens or teratogens should always be considered in the first instance. Safety and Health is happy to provide advice on the use of carcinogenic substances and possible alternatives. 

    Seek approval for use

    Scheduled Carcinogens, Mutagens and Teratogens

    Before purchasing reagents, the use, storage, handling, biomonitoring and disposal of  scheduled carcinogens, mutagens and teratogens requires approval from the UWA Carcinogenic and Mutagenic Substances Committee and WorkSafe.

    Refer to Seek approval for carcinogen, mutagen or teratogen use.

    Non-scheduled Carcinogens

    Although approval is not required for the use of non-scheduled carcinogens, we recommend that you complete the form as part of the risk assessment. 

    Monitor your health

    Refer to the section above on Chemical Management: Risk Management and Emergencies.  

  • Capacitors containing Polychlorinated Bipheynyls (PCBs)

    Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) are a group of very stable chemicals which resist change from ageing, wide temperature variation and influence of acids and alkalis. 

    To prevent exposure to PCBs from leaking capacitors, all leaking capacitors must be removed and replaced with non-PCB capacitors. 

    Typical sources of PCBs

    PCBs are found extensively in transformers and capacitors used in the electrical industry and in a wide range of other products. 

    Smaller PCB filled capacitors are fitted to electric motors, welders and fluorescent lights. Typically they contain about 50g of PCB. Usually they carry no label identifying the PCB content. 

    Metal cased capacitors usually contain PCB. A plastic cased capacitor usually does not. 

    Leaking Capacitors

    Unless accurate information on PCB content of the capacitors is available, all leaking capacitors must be treated as if they do contain PCBs and adequate personal protective equipment/clothing must be worn. Swab samples of the leaking capacitor fluid or the capacitors themselves can be sent to WorkSafe, or the Health Department for PCB identification. Capacitors should be properly packed (see disposal of contaminated materials). 

    Buildings built or renovated before 1980 are likely to have fluorescent lights with PCB filled capacitors. 

    Health effects

    PCBs can enter the body in three ways: 

    1. By swallowing contaminated food or drink. 

    2. By absorption through the skin. 

    3. By inhaling the vapour. However, vapour concentrations at room temperature are not significant. 

    Once the PCBs are in the body they tend to lodge in the body fat and stay there for a considerable time. The very stability which makes them such useful materials prevents the body from eliminating them quickly. 

    Whatever the method of entry, excessive body contamination can cause long term health problems with the skin, eyes, hair and liver. A persistent pungent body odour may be experienced. Other health problems have been reported as the result of careless usage or accidental exposure to these chemicals. 

    PCBs are listed as a carcinogenic substance under the 7th Schedule of the Poisons Act 1964, administered by the Health Department of WA. 

    Personal protective equipment (PPE)

    Personal protective equipment/clothing required for the handling of PCBs and PCB contaminated equipment in light fittings are: 

    • chemically impervious disposable overalls (Tyvek) 

    • mid-arm length nitrile rubber gloves 

    • rubber boots 

    • safety goggles or face shield. 

    At room temperature PCBs do not readily vaporise. However, if PCB vapours are suspected then suitable respirators (twin cartridge type suitable for chlorinated vapours) should be used. 

    If skin contamination occurs the liquid should be removed immediately with soap and water. Water alone is not sufficient. If clothing is contaminated it should be quickly removed and disposed of as recommended. 

    Disposal of contaminated materials

    All removal is to be undertaken by Campus Management and Safety. Contact [email protected] for advice.

  • Concessional spirits

    Various groups within the University use potable ethanol for scientific and technical purposes, and this ethanol would normally be subject to excise and duty as drinkable alcohol. 

    UWA, however, holds a permit to purchase and use concessional ethanol (alcohol purchased free of duty and excise). This exemption is based on the premise that the ethanol will not be used for human consumption. 

    A key condition of this permit is that all use of concessional ethanol within UWA must be accounted for and recorded. The resulting records must be retained for audit purposes. There are separate permits for the main Crawley Campus and the Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre site. 

    Requirements of the permit

    Use of concessional ethanol under the relevant permit is subject to periodic audit by personnel from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), acting on behalf of the Australian Customs Service. The permits outline a maximum quantity of ethanol permitted to be purchased from nominated suppliers in any 12-month period. The nominated suppliers are also given authorisation by the ATO to provide no more than the stipulated maximum quantity of ethanol to UWA users in any 12-month period. 

    The two UWA permits (Crawley Campus and QEII) specify total annual allocations of ethanol for the entire University. These allocations arose by consolidating individual allocations for various purchasing centres across the University that identified a need to use concessional ethanol when the permit was obtained. 

    Each of these users identified one or more nominated suppliers, to whom any orders would be limited for the period of validity of the permit. For each supplier, a maximum supply quantity was also stipulated. These allocations are fixed until the next permit renewal (usually every three years). 

    Each purchasing centre is limited to the allocation of ethanol they nominated at the time of renewal of the permit, from the suppliers they nominated. Ordering of ethanol in excess of these limits or from other suppliers will see one purchasing centre consuming ethanol allocated for another area, and ultimately other areas will be denied the right to purchase ethanol until 12 months have expired. 

    Record keeping and form

    Meticulous records must be maintained for a minimum of five years for all use of concessional ethanol. If use is not recorded and significant anomalies are found during audits by the ATO, duty and excise can be charged for the entire UWA consumption for the previous five years, at a rate of $101.85 per litre (as at March 2024). Thousands of litres are used annually within the University, so this represents a significant financial penalty. 

    The information required to be recorded and maintained in records is: 

    • the quantity of ethanol taken/used* 

    • the name of person using ethanol 

    • the purpose of use (solvent, sterilisation) 

    • date 

    • signature. 

    *Signatures must be collected for the final use of the ethanol. Generally this translates to signing for laboratory-sized containers such as lab bottles or Winchesters at a maximum. Where larger stocks of ethanol (20 L for example) are purchased (for example, from the Chemistry Store where allocations have been arranged), the purchasing person must sign for the 20 L from the store, but the recipient area must then maintain its own records for the use of that 20 L of ethanol as it is consumed by various users within that area. 

    The easiest way to maintain records for the purpose of auditing is to retain a copy of all invoices for ethanol purchased (or T forms for internal transactions) along with the associated records sheets for the consumption of each invoice quantity. The records then constitute a self-contained audit trail, with each invoice (or T form) accounted for through the attached usage records. 

    Concessional ethanol use record sheet [DOC]

  • Cytostatic/cytotoxic waste

    Disposal of cytostatic/cytotoxic drugs waste is required on occasion in some research laboratories. 

    Many such wastes can be most safely and conveniently destroyed chemically in the laboratory. Destruction of the waste at the point of generation/use eliminates any risk to other personnel (such as those who deal with waste disposal) and helps minimise the quantity of waste generated. Other cytotoxic related waste (such as contaminated sharps) is best sent for incineration. 

    General wastes contaminated with cytotoxic substances (gloves, plastic bags, consumables etc) can be disposed of in commercially available cytotoxic waste bins, through licensed waste disposal contractors. These bins are collected periodically and the contents incinerated. 

    Links to external resources

    A number of organisations have internet sites which provide information on the disposal of cytotoxic drugs and solutions thereof. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have produced a number of publications on the disposal of such substances.

  • Illicit drug precursors

    Illicit drugs and substances and materials which may be used in the production of illicit drugs are subject to statutory controls in WA which are intended to prevent the production and supply of these substances for illicit purposes. 

    The relevant legislation has been amended to encompass substances and equipment which may be used in the production of drugs for illicit purposes. The legislation includes lists of substances and equipment of interest, and imposes a tiered set of requirements to be met prior to regulated material being supplied to a purchaser. 

    Substances and equipment subject to the legislative requirements can only be possessed if there is a lawful authority or purpose for the possession under this or other legislation (such as the Poisons Regulations). 

    Requirements for research and teaching use

    Tertiary research and teaching uses within the University are subject to an exemption from most the general requirements of the legislation, providing that: 

    • the substances and equipment are used for University purposes 

    • the materials are ordered on an official order form/purchase order or other official UWA paperwork – phone and internet orders are not acceptable – and go through a formal billing process. 

    Note, also, that the regulated materials must be delivered to a recognised UWA address. 

    So, for example, phone or internet orders paid for by credit card can’t be processed by a supplier without confirmatory hardcopy paperwork. 

    For organisations not subject to the exemption clauses which apply to UWA, detailed paperwork may be required prior to orders being processed. This may require proof of identification, Australian Business Number declarations and other checks. 

    In any case, substances and equipment subject to the regulations can not be supplied from UWA to non-UWA personnel or entities without formal notification to WA Police and other authorities as required. Similarly, UWA personnel can not order regulated materials for other organisations. 

    In the current climate, with regard to clandestine drug manufacture, and considering the desirability of these materials for such purposes, it is strongly recommended that all scheduled substances and equipment be well secured. 

    Legislation links

    Anyone who is conducting research using chemicals that are considered illicit drug precursors should familiarise themselves with the relevant schedules (from the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1982). 

    Legislation 

    Illicit drug precursors schedules 

    Refer to the Illicit drug precursors schedules  

  • Pesticides

    Understand the procedures below before using pesticides in your workplace.

    1. Read the label before use

    • It identifies the hazardous substance’s properties and toxicity. 

    • It provides a guide to safe handling, storage and use. 

    • It will help you choose which chemical is least toxic to humans, but will still do the job. It provides first aid treatment advice. Make sure you have an antidote on hand. 

    • Additional information should be available in the form of a Safety Data Sheet. Demand one from your supplier.

    2. Prepare a checklist of hazardous substances and protective measures

    Make a list of all the hazardous substances on the premises and write down current procedures for handling hazardous substances. 

    Take into account: 

    Training Conducted

    • Is training and supervision provided for employees using hazardous substances? 

    • Is there an awareness that using chemicals involves hazards? 

    Protective Clothing

    • Is appropriate protective clothing worn? 

    • Check protective clothing to be used for handling hazardous substances. Does it comply with the manufacturer’s recommendations? 

    Storage

    • Are hazardous substances stored correctly? 

    • How and where are the hazardous substances stored? 

    • Is anything else stored with them? 

    Use

    • Is the least toxic substance that will do the job used? Consider that there may be other less hazardous means of control. 

    • Is the information on the label read and followed? 

    • Are Safety Data Sheets obtained from the supplier? 

    • Is there a safe procedure for applying hazardous substances?

    Disposal and Transport

    • Is there a safe procedure for cleaning up? 

    • Are hazardous substances transported safely? 

    3. Store the hazardous substance correctly

    • Store in a well ventilated and well lit shed that is lockable and has an impervious floor and impervious shelving. 

    • Keep away from animal feeds, fertilizers and seeds. 

    • Store away from protective clothing and equipment. 

    • Make sure a tap is located close to clean up any spills. 

    • Store the hazardous substance in their original containers, with labels intact. Relabel containers if labels come off. 

    • Separate hazardous substances that may react with one another. 

    4. Apply the hazardous substance safely

    • Prepare only enough for immediate use. 

    • Keep a record of their use and results. Make sure equipment works well and doesn’t leak. 

    • Spray with minimal drift and preferably in low wind conditions. 

    • Cover feed and water containers near mixing or spraying. 

    • Wash hands before going to the toilet, smoking or eating. 

    • Wear protective clothing. Read the label and Safety Data Sheet for instructions on appropriate protective clothing to use during mixing and application.

    5. Care for the environment

    • Stick to recommended quantities and rates. 

    • Observe the withholding periods stated on label. 

    • Observe any warnings on the label regarding toxicity to non-target animals.

    6. Clean-up

    • Thoroughly clean all spraying and protective equipment where run-off will not contaminate the environment or create a hazard. 

    • Wash work clothing separately or dispose of as appropriate. 

    • Wash exposed skin areas with soap and water, and rinse with clean water.

    7. Transport

    • Avoid transporting with food, water, animal feed or other reactive hazardous substances. 

    • Secure hazardous substances on the vehicle so they don’t fall off. 

    • Keep a list of the hazardous substances you are carrying.

    First Aid procedures

    • Read the Safety Data Sheet. Be aware of First Aid measures before use.

    • For skin contact, wash with soap and water, and rinse with clean water. 

    • For eye contact, hold eye open under running water for 15 minutes. 

    • For swallowing, ring the Western Australian Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.

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