Pātiki and Waharua Kōpito patterns

In case of poisoning

For information about poisons or in case of poisoning, call the National Poisons Centre on 0800 764 766.

If you or someone else requires urgent medical attention, call 111.

There are more than 100,000 hazardous substances in common use in the home, at workplaces, and in public places in New Zealand. These include petrol, solvents, household cleaners, and cosmetics. A lot of substances that are hazardous to people are controlled under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO Act). Under this legislation, a substance is ‘hazardous’ if it can explode, catch fire, oxidise, corrode, is toxic to humans, or is ecotoxic. Common examples include chemicals such as methylated spirits and petrol which are flammable, or some garden chemicals which can be toxic humans.


Te Whatu Ora and the Ministry of Health are two of a number of government agencies with responsibilities regarding hazardous substances. The role of Te Whatu Ora, including local public health services, in relation to hazardous substances, focuses on the protection of public health. This includes:

  • Ensuring the provisions of the HSNO Act are complied with (in collaboration with other agencies), where it is necessary to protect public health, and
  • A wider role in the management of public health risks from exposures to hazardous substances, and products that are outside of the scope of the HSNO Act.


In our role, Te Whatu Ora undertakes a range of work, including efforts to minimise harm to the public from exposure to hazardous substances, investigating notified cases of lead poisoning, agrichemical spraydrift, and other poisoning from environmental contamination. 

Other government agencies involved in hazardous substance management

Other agencies involved

  • Ministry for the Environment (MfE) - the lead policy agency for hazardous substances and administers the HSNO Act.
  • The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) - the regulatory agency that implements the HSNO Act, including putting the rules/controls in place to manage the risks of hazardous substances and to safeguard people and the environment. The EPA also has responsibility for approving and classifying hazardous substances. It also receives applications for approval to import or manufacture new hazardous substances, assesses the risks and decides whether the substances should be approved for use in New Zealand. 
  • Fire and Emergency New Zealand - the lead agency for any hazardous substance emergencies.
  • WorkSafe New Zealand - implements and enforces workplace requirements provided in the Health and Safety at Work legislation and regulations. WorkSafe focuses on the use, storage, and handling of hazardous substances in workplaces. It also  enforces the ecotoxic and disposal requirements in the workplace.
  • 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.
  • A range of other government agencies also have a role – including the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, the Civil Aviation Authority, Maritime New Zealand, and others.  

Hazardous substance resources

Queries or advice sought about hazardous substances that have potential public health implications should be directed to your local public health service. 

See the list of public health service contacts here.

Product recalls

Product Recalls lists products that have been recalled. This includes medicines, medical devices and equipment, tools and machinery, vehicles, and household goods.

The site will help you find out:

  • which products are being recalled
  • what’s wrong with the products
  • what you need to do to have the product replaced, refunded, or repaired.

For businesses, there’s also information on how to lodge a recall.

Food recalls