Hazardous substances

Hazardous substances can be dangerous or poisonous, yet they are an essential part of our daily lives.

The list of commonly used hazardous substances is long and includes detergents, methylated spirits, bleaches, solvents and petrol. A substance is considered hazardous if it has one or more of the following hazardous properties:

  • Explosive e.g. fireworks 
  • Flammable (gas, liquid & solid) e.g. petrol or diesel 
  • Oxidises (can accelerate a fire) e.g. pool chemicals 
  • Corrosive e.g. drain cleaner 
  • Toxic to people e.g. agrichemicals 
  • Ecotoxic e.g. pesticides
  • Or a substance that has these properties when it gets wet or is exposed to air.

In reality, most hazardous substances have more than one hazardous property.  For example, petrol is flammable, toxic and ecotoxic.

Substances can also be hazardous if they are radioactive or contain infectious material, but are not included in Environment Southland's rules as hazardous substances. Radioactive materials are managed by the National Radiation Laboratory (NRL) and infectious substances by Public Health.

What do you need to know?

Hazardous substances are commonplace in most of our day to day lives and need to be managed correctly – they are used in a broad range of applications including fuels, pest controls and cleaning products.  If these substances are misused they have the ability to harm you, your family, stock and the environment.  Some key things you can do to minimise the risks include:

  • Keep hazardous substances in their original containers (where possible).
  • Always label hazardous substances, keep the original label if possible.
  • Ensure non-compatible substances are kept separate/store appropriately.
  • Make sure you have an up to date Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for all your chemicals – if your SDS sheets are more than 5 years old, ask your chemical supplier for an update.
  • Never put hazardous substances in drink bottles – someone might drink it by mistake.
  • Store hazardous substances out of reach of small children, pets and stock.
  • Dispose of unwanted hazardous substances safely – do not burn or dispose of these substances in a farm pit. 

Rules and regulations 

Environment Southland's rules

We have a number of rules relating to the use and storage of hazardous substance on farms -most are permitted activity rules, which means you don't need a resource consent as long as you meet the conditions in the rule.  Whether you are a permitted activity or need a resource consent will depend on which chemicals you have and how much you have.

HSNO – Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996

HSNO requirements are in addition to our rules.  HSNO regulations cover a range of things such as what personal protective equipment someone needs to where, their training and how chemicals are stored.  What you need to do for HSNO will depend on what chemicals you have and how much.  

The Environment Protection Authority has responsibility for implementing HSNO legislation and is the lead agency relating to Hazardous Substances. For more information, see the Environment Protection Authority website.

Worksafe New Zealand has responsibility for certain licensing, testing and compliance relating to Hazardous Substances. For more information see the Worksafe NZ website.​

Page reviewed: 29 Apr 2016 10:45am