Hazardous substances notifications

This section provides information on hazardous substances injuries from 2014 to 2021. The data comes from the Hazardous Substances Disease and Injury Reporting Tool (HSDIRT). 

In New Zealand, any injury or disease caused by hazardous substances must be notified to the Medical Officer of Health. Examples of cases that should 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. 

Many substances can be found in the kitchen, bathroom, workplace, garage or utility shed. If users do not follow label instructions, this can lead to injuries from hazardous substances (Ministry of Health 2019). Adverse health effects can be acute (short term) or chronic (long term). Typical acute health effects include headache, nausea or vomiting, and skin corrosion, while chronic health effects include asthma, dermatitis, nerve damage or cancer (Worksafe 2017).

This section reports on hazardous substance injury notifications from the Hazardous Substances Disease and Injury Reporting Tool (HSDIRT) which was developed in 2013. It includes data on substances covered by the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO) 1996 and Health Act 1956.

Documents

Metadata: Hazardous substances notifications (Sep 2022) Download report PDF
Factsheet: Hazardous substances notifications (Oct 2022) View interactive report Download report PDF

Key facts from 2021

  1. Children (0–14 years) are most likely to be injured from hazardous substances in the home through unintentional ingestion while adults (15+ years) are most likely to unintentionally inhale hazardous substances at work or in the home.

  2. Hazardous substance notification rates ranged from 2.0–2.4 per 100,000 from 2016–2019 before declining in 2020 (0.8 per 100,000) and 2021 (1.3 per 100,000).

  3. From 2017–2021, notification rates among children aged 0–4 years were elevated for both males (3.8 per 100,000) and females (3.6 per 100,000) compared to older age groups.

  4. From 2019–2021, hazardous substance notification rates were similar between more and less deprived areas, based on NZDep18.

  5. From 2014–2021 over half of all hazardous substances notifications originated from Regional Public Health Service

Information about the data

This indicator reports HSDIRT hazardous substances notifications from 2014 to 2021. The data was extracted from the HSDIRT system on 8 March 2022. Updates or additions made to HSDIRT after this date are not reflected in this factsheet.

Data have sometimes been pooled to give sufficient numbers for analysis.

Crude rates presented in this factsheet do not take into account varying age distributions when comparing between populations.

For additional information, see the metadata.

References

1. Ministry Of Health. 2019. The Investigation and Surveillance of Poisoning and Hazardous-substance Injuries: Guidelines for public health units (4th edn). Wellington: Ministry of Health.

2. Worksafe – Mahi Humaru Aotearoa. 2017. Information on Hazardous Substances. URL: https://worksafe.govt.nz/topicand-industry/hazardous-substances/about-hazardous-substances/ (Accessed 21 September 2021)

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