Some common manufactured products may be or contain hazardous substances

Controls on many of these products are contained in Group Standards made under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996. For more about Groups Standards, read the information on the Environmental Protection Authority website.


If you think someone has been poisoned

The National Poisons Centre has a 24-hour freephone 0800 764 766 that you can call to get help and information if you think you or a family member has been exposed to a poison.

In an emergency, call 111.


Poisoning means exposure to a substance that is harmful to your body. Find out more here.


Poisons around the home

Many things in and around our homes are poisonous and can be appealing to children.

Find out how you can keep your whānau safe here: Poisons around the home

National Poisons Centre

The National Poisons Centre is New Zealand's poison and hazardous chemicals information centre. it runs a 24-hour 7-day toll free telephone advice service - 0800 764 766

There are also a lot of resources available on their website: National Poisons Centre

Hazardous substances notifications

In New Zealand, any injury or disease caused by hazardous substances must be notified to a Medical Officer of Health from your local public health service.

Examples that need to be reported include:

  • a fireworks injury
  • ingestion of cleaning products or cosmetics by children
  • poisoning with agrichemicals (including spraydrift incidents)
  • unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning
  • illness caused by exposure to solvents or chlorine
  • contact dermatitis due to chemicals
  • huffing of butane and other hydrocarbons. 


More information about notifications is available at Environmental Health Intelligence New Zealand.

Guidelines for public health services

These guidelines provide practical advice for investigating and addressing complaints and notifications about poisoning arising from chemical contamination of the environment and hazardous-substances injury.

Poisoning and Hazardous-substance Injuries: Guidelines for public health services


Art materials

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Some art and craft materials (like crayons, paints, water colours) have been found to contain high concentrations of toxic elements and their compounds.

It is an offence to import or manufacture graphic materials (crayons, paints, water colours) intended for use by children if they do not contain less thsn the maximum permissible metal limits set in the Graphic Materials Group Standard. 

Cleaning products

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The Cleaning Products Group Standard prohibits the sale of highly corrosive products to the public. However, some products, with pH above 12.5, may continue to be sold in New Zealand for commercial purposes, such as to restaurants and other workplaces where children cannot get access to them.

Some detergents and dishwasher tablets are hazardous to young children. Learn more at the Consumer website




Cosmetic products are regulated via the Cosmetic Products Group Standard.

This Group Standard sets a number of requirements that cosmetic products must comply with, restricts the types of hazardous properties that are allowable in cosmetic products, and restricts certain components, either banning them completely or setting maximum concentration levels.

Environmental Health Intelligence New Zealand conducted a report specifically looking at the level of chemicals in very cheap lipsticks, such as those found at $2 shops. Read the report here.

Warning about mercury and lead in skin whitening products

Skin lightening products have been found to contain high levels of mercury, which is dangerous to your health. It can have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on the lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes. It can also affect the development of unborn babies. These products also contain lead which can also affect your health.

Read the full warning.

Tattoos, piercings, and permanent makeup

Tattoo and Permanent Makeup Group Standard

The risks from tattoos and permanent makeup come from both the chemical composition of the ink used and potential infection caused by unsafe practices. For tattoo inks and permanent makeup substances, the relevant approval is the Tattoo and Permanent Makeup Substances Group Standard.


Guidelines for tatau and traditional tattooists

These guidelines address measures to improve the safety of customary tattooing and are of relevance to tattooists, public health units and Medical Officers of Health.

English - Customary Tattooing Guidelines for Operators

Samoan - Ta'iala mo Tufuga Tā Tatau a Sāmoa

Guidelines for the Safe Piercing of Skin

Body piercing and tattooing are activities that can affect public health when operators use unsafe techniques. There are significant hazards posed by contact with blood and body fluid, such as the risk of transmitting blood-borne viral diseases.