About this item

Issue date:
7 March 2024
Corporate Author:
Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora
Diseases & conditions, Emergency management, Environmental health, Public health

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. 

The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO Act) refers to injury, but for practical purposes, this also includes disease associated with exposure to a hazardous substance that is legally required under the Health Act 1956 and the HSNO Act 1996. The guidelines contribute to the assessment of human health risk or health impact by providing a systematic procedure for responding to and investigating chemical or hazardous substance complaints and notifications.

The guidelines are for public health officers who investigate complaints of chemical or hazardous-substances injury, and notifications of poisoning arising from chemical contamination of the environment (referred to as chemical exposure incidents) in non-occupational settings. People may be exposed in non-occupational settings in and around home or outdoors.

These guidelines should also be used whenever a hazardous-substance injury in an occupational environment is notified to the National Public Health Service.

The guidelines provide advice on coordination with other agencies, such as regional councils, territorial authorities, Environmental Protection Authority, WorkSafe New Zealand, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (Trading Standards).

The guidelines are designed to be compatible with investigations carried out by these agencies.


2024 revisions

The 2024 revisions are minor and administrative to reflect changes made in the 2022 health sector reforms, which included the establishment of Te Whatu Ora and the National Public Health Service.  Links to other Te Whatu Ora guidance documents referenced in the guidelines have also been updated.