A hazardous substance is a substance that has one or more ‘hazardous properties’ including explosiveness, flammability, human toxicity, corrosiveness and eco-toxicity, or otherwise causes harm to people or the environment on exposure.  

Hazardous substances cover a wide range of chemicals and products from petrol, solvents, fireworks, industrial chemicals, agrichemicals, through to household cleaners. 

It is the hazardous properties of these substances that makes them useful to society but these properties also make the substances potentially dangerous. 

Historical events involving hazardous substances

Recent incidents involving hazardous substances have included the 2004 VJ Distributors Fire, Napier, the 2008 Tamahere Coolstore fire and the 2013 Raetihi diesel contaminated water supply. 

Effects of a hazardous substance incident

As well as the direct impact to the people involved, these events can affect the wider community if the surrounding area needs to be evacuated.

Risk of hazardous substance incident

Depending on the hazard they present, the use, storage and transport of hazardous substances is regulated. Storing, handling and transporting hazardous substances correctly reduces the risk of adverse events.  

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Further information on hazardous substances is available from