Indicators at a glance - hazardous substances

This section summarises the latest Environmental Health Indicators about hazardous substances in New Zealand.

Hazardous substances refer to chemicals that can explode, catch fire, oxidise, corrode, be toxic to humans, or be ecotoxic. 

Health effects of hazardous substances Key findings
Number of hazardous substances-related deaths
  • Forty-nine people died from hazardous substances exposure in 2015, compared to 44 deaths in 2014.
  • Carbon monoxide caused the most hazardous substances-related deaths.
Number of hazardous substances-related hospital discharges
  • In 2019, there were 463 unintentional hazardous substances-related hospitalisations, and the number of hospitalisations has decreased since 2006 (563 hospitalisations).
  • Māori had a higher rate of hazardous substances-related hospitalisations than non-Māori
    since 2006.
  • Children under five years continue to have the highest hazardous substances-related
    hospitalisation rates compared to other age groups.
Number of lead absorption notifications
  • There were 204 lead absorption notifications in 2019, an increase since 2017. The increase was driven by growth in notifications among adults.
  • Pacific people were most affected by lead exposure from their occupation in 2014–19. 
  • Painters are the most exposed to lead.
Number of hazardous substances notifications
  • In 2019, there were a total of 98 hazardous substance notifications. This is a 30% decrease from 2018 (140 notifications).
  • Children under the age of five years had the highest notification rate in 2018 and 2019.
Number of hazardous substances incidents attended by the New Zealand Fire Service
  • Every year, Fire and Emergency New Zealand attends over 1200 hazardous substances incidents.
Number of calls to the National Poisons Centre
  • Over 50 percent of hazardous substances-related calls were related to children under five years old in 2016.
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