Download Technical Bulletin (Revised June 2012)

Hydrofluoric acid is an aggressive substance used in the stainless steel industry, usually to assist in removal of scale and the chrome depleted layer associated with welds.

Changes in the National Drugs and Poisons Schedules have recently brought hydrofluoric acid (HF) into focus.

Products containing HF in concentrations greater than one percent (1%) now attract a National Drugs and Poisons Schedule 7 listing. In many states this has implications for license and permit requirements. Further information on the background to rescheduling of HF from a Schedule 6 to a Schedule 7 poison, can be found at the National Drugs and Poisons Schedules Committee website.

The implications of this change for people purchasing and using "pickling pastes" (usually incorporating HF at concentrations between 3% and 5%) and other pickling materials containing HF, and for persons selling these materials, are briefly described below on a state by state basis. The descriptions are based on verbal and in some cases written discussion with the departmental office in each state or territory and are not provided as definitive statements on your responsibilities. Also included are contact details for Public Health Authorities in each state. If you use or trade HF-containing products, ASSDA strongly suggests you contact state authorities for further information, licence applications etc.

ASSDA made representation to the National Drugs and Poisons Scheduling Committee which ultimately led to a change in the regulatory requirements in New South Wales. This change is reflected below.

It is likely however that there are conditions which must be met right now to buy or sell HF products in most states. Although in some cases licenses and permits are inexpensive, there is still paperwork to be completed and additional checks to be implemented in organisations handling these products.

Failure to comply with these laws may trigger various legal alternatives open to state authorities. Failure to obtain the relevant license or permit may also have implications for an organisation's insurance cover or other risk management arrangements.

ASSDA urges you to examine your responsibilities and maintain compliance with appropriate laws.

Pharmaceutical Services, Health Protection Service, ACT Government Health

t: 02 6205 1700
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Sellers or manufacturers of Schedule 7 poisons require a license, issued by the Minister (of Health), to possess a Schedule 7 substance. The current license fee is from $322 per year. Schedule 7 substances must be securely stored at all times and any sales must be recorded in a poisons register.

Pharmaceutical Services Branch, New South Wales Health

t: 02 9879 3214
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Purchaser is required to obtain and/or use an "Authority" to buy a Schedule 7 poison unless the substance is intended for non-domestic use (ie. for industrial, commercial or trade purposes). There is no cost to obtaining authority.

Poisons Control, Department of Health, Northern Territory

t: 08 8922 7341

Manufacturers and wholesalers require a license and must comply with requirements of the license (which includes rules for storage, sale and record keeping). A retailer also requires a license with similar requirements.
A user requires a legal authority for which there is no fee, but for which there are requirements. For information about fees, authorisations and application forms, contact 08 8922 7341.

Drug and Poisons Policy and Regulation Unit, Environmental Health Branch, Public Health Queensland

t: 07 3328 9310
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A Schedule 7 poison may only be sold by a person who has been licensed by the Chief Executive Officer to do so.
A licensee must ensure all Schedule 7 poisons are stored in a locked receptacle or storeroom, and keep personal possession of another responsible adult authorised by the licensee.
A licensee must make accurate records of all sales of Schedule 7 poisons. These records may be made in the form of an entry in poisons sales book, or by giving the purchase an invoice that has a unique number. The following details must be recorded:
  • Date of sale
  • Name and quantity or volume of the poison sold
  • Purpose for which the poison is required
  • Purchaser's name and address
  • If the purchaser buys the poison in person - the purchaser's signature
  • If the order was a telephone or written order - a note about the way the order was placed.

Usually a licensed wholesaler may not sell by retail. However, a licensed wholesaler may sell a Schedule 7 poison by retail to a person who uses the poison in a technical process connected with the person's business, industry or trade. The wholesaler must give the purchaser an invoice that has a unique number and states:

  • Date of sale
  • Purchaser's name and address
  • Name and quantity of the poison sold
  • All records must be kept for two (2) years

The application fee for license to sell a Schedule 7 poison is $265 and the renewal fee is $159. The application fee for a license to manufacture a Schedule 7 poison is $562.50, and the renewal fee is $456.50 a year.

Drugs and Poisons, Pharmaceutical Services and Strategy, Department of Health

t: 08 8226 7100
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Wholesalers of Schedule 7 poisons are required to be licensed. The license fee is $171 for 1 year. The license fee to manufacture a Schedule 7 is $255. Please note, fees change on 1 July annually. There are requirements for record-keeping associated with the license. Contact the SA Department of Health for further details and applications.

Pharmaceutical Services Branch, Department of Health and Human Resources, Tasmania

t: 03 6233 2064
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Licenses are required by sellers of a Schedule 7 poison and by all purchasers.

Drugs and Poisons Regulation, Department of Health, Victoria

t: 1300 364 545 or 03 9096 1067
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Manufacturers and wholesalers require a license to trade Schedule 7 poisons. A license to manufacture a Schedule 7 poison costs $695.30 for the first year and $245.60 for subsequent years. Manufacturing the product is defined to include all activities such as preparing for sale, repackaging, relabeling etc.

Pharmaceutical Service Branch, Disaster Management, Regulation and Planning Directorate, Department of Health, Western Australia

t: 08 9222 6883
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Licenses to sell permits to use are required for Schedule 7 poisons. Application for a wholesaler's license costs $600. To apply for a permit to use the product, the cost is $200.
In both cases, separate application forms are required for both the general application for a Schedule 7 poison and a specific hydrofluoric acid application.
In addition, depending on whether the application is for wholesale or use, various requirements must be met and experience must be demonstrated in those applications.

























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