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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

29 June 2005

New chemicals guide at your fingertips

If you ever wanted to know more about chemicals that may be found in the air you breathe, in the water you drink, or in the soil you live on, now you can find out – through a new and dynamic online guide to chemicals in the Australian environment.

An initiative of the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC), chaired by the Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, the National Chemical Reference Guide is the first resource of its kind in Australia.

“The National Chemical Reference Guide not only operates as a central database of environmental criteria but also provides practical and easy to understand explanations about chemical standards and guidelines and links to the original sources of these criteria,” Senator Campbell said.

“This means that for any one of the 600-plus chemicals in the database, you can find out what environmental standard or guideline values have been set in Australia for that chemical. These standards are used in the management of chemicals in the environment. The Guide will be reviewed and updated as new chemical standards and guidelines are developed.

“This will be a valuable resource for anyone interested in chemical standards and guidelines, particularly newcomers to this area.”

Chemicals, whether natural or man-made, are a central part of our daily life. They provide us with a wide range of benefits, such as increased agricultural and industrial productivity and improvements in the control of disease. On the other hand chemicals have the potential to cause considerable health and environmental problems throughout their life cycle, from production through to disposal.

“As part of our responsibility to protect the environment and human health, Australian governments through EPHC are committed to ensuring chemicals are managed safely,” Senator Campbell said.

“The online guide pulls together all the existing environmental criteria for chemicals in the air, water, soil, sediment and biota.”

The Guide was developed as part of a larger program on environmental management of chemicals by all Australian governments through the Environment Protection and Heritage Council. It is the second project to be released, the first being the National Chemical Information Gateway launched in April 2004.

The project has been funded under the Australian Government's Sustainable Cities package as a Year of the Built Environment 2004 initiative in collaboration with the Australian Democrats.

The next meeting of the Environment Protection and Heritage Council will be this Friday in Perth. The National Chemical Reference Guide is accessible through the DEH website at

Media Contact: Renae Stoikos 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

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