About the Committee
Australia participates in global chemicals management through the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The OECD Chemicals and Biotechnology Committee oversees OECD work on chemical safety and biosafety. The committee helps countries to work together on cost-effective ways to protect human health and the environment from chemical risks. This also reduces duplication of effort and removes barriers to trade.
Committee activities and Australia’s involvement
The OECD Chemicals and Biotechnology Committee oversees a large work program that provides many benefits to Australia. This includes the development of standardised testing guidelines, and guidance on monitoring of chemicals.
Australia holds Chair and Vice-Chair positions on several technical working parties overseen by the committee. The Chair and Vice-Chairs manage the work program and ensure that meetings are productive.
Test guidelines and mutual acceptance of data
The committee develops guidelines on how to test chemicals for hazards to human health and the environment. Regulators in Australia and other OECD member countries accept tests that follow these guidelines. These tests are also accepted in countries that adhere to the OECD Mutual Acceptance of Data program.
This means that companies can do a single test and submit the data to regulators in multiple countries, rather than undertaking separate tests to meet different requirements. This reduces costs to industry, promotes trade and reduces the number of animals used in testing.
Environmental monitoring of chemicals
The committee publishes guidance and standards on how to develop Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers (PRTRs). These are publicly accessible databases of chemicals released to air, water and soil. Australia’s PRTR is the National Pollutant Inventory. This inventory is included as a best practice example in the OECD standards.
- OECD Environment, Health and Safety Programme
- Saving Costs in Chemical Management (OECD webpage)
- Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS)
- Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority (APVMA)
- Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
- Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ)
- National Pollutant Inventory
- OECD PRTR guidance documents