The National framework for Chemicals Environmental Management (NChEM) is being developed under the guidance of the National Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC).
It consists of four linked action areas covering:
1) Environmental Risk Assessment – to make sure environmental risks from chemicals are identified and managed up-front and build in agency on-the-ground experience in the setting of management controls.
2) Environmental Controls – to bring national consistency to environmental regulation and management of chemicals and to ensure the right tools are available for the task.
3) Feedback of Information – to ensure chemical decisions are informed by on-the-ground experience and to improve the processes in place to gather, use and access this information.
4) Prioritizing Action – to enable Environment Ministers to be proactive and strategically focused in identifying and addressing priority and emerging issues about chemicals in the environment. Key area one focuses on environmental risk assessment of chemicals and this manual has been developed to improve transparency, and understanding of environmental risk assessments. In general, Australia seeks to keep pace with best practice in its assessment methodologies.
This manual covers industrial chemicals and is writte n based on current methodologies in Australia and internationally. The purpose of this manual is twofold: The first is to provide risk assessors with guidance on the environmental risk assessment of industrial chemicals. Secondly, it may provide other stakeholders with an illustration of the general process and considerations that risk assessors employ when assessi ng the potential risks that chemicals may pose to the environment. For a less technical illustr ation of the key areas that risk assessors consider, a separate overview document is available. The manual establishes a starting point for best practice assessment. It is intended that improv ed assessment tools and methods will be incor porated into this manual as they become available. This manual outlines how the assessor should carry out an assessment of a ne w or existing industrial chemical according to best practice including what information, me thods and tools to use in a ssessing chemicals.
It is noted, however, that this information is provided as gu idance rather than prescriptive methodology as each assessment needs to be tailored to fit the particular chemical being assessed. The following chapters provide the assessor with the information that they need to carry out a risk assessment, including:
• general concepts on environmental risk assessment and the steps under taken (this Chapter, Section 1.2)
• what data are required (Chapter 2)
• how data are evaluated for adequacy, su itability and reliability (Chapter 3)
• how environmental exposure is assessed (Chapter 4)
• how environmental effects are assessed (Chapter 5)
• how persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals are assessed (Chapter 6)
• how risk is characterized and what can be done to manage risk (Chapter 7). Such information provides a basis for a clearer understanding of the considerations that apply when assessing the potential risks that industrial chemicals pose to the environment.