Where possible, you should make all efforts to use non-carcinogenic or less toxic chemicals instead of carcinogenic or highly toxic substances.

If you are using carcinogens or highly toxic chemicals, you should always use the minimum quantities required, following the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) principle.

Procedures and guidelines

All activities involving the use, handling and storage of carcinogens should be performed in accordance with the Carcinogens Safety Policy [2.70.10].

Some carcinogens are prohibited or restricted for industrial use, but can be used for research with correct authorisation. See the Carcinogens: Manage Compliance of Prohibited and Restricted Procedures [2.70.11] for more information.

All work with cytotoxic substances should follow the Cytotoxic Compounds and Related Waste Guidelines [2.70.12].

Prohibited and restricted carcinogens

For research involving prohibited or restricted carcinogens, the principal researcher must obtain authorisation from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland to use, handle or store the carcinogens.

Follow section 6.3 of the Carcinogens: Manage Compliance of Prohibited and Restricted Procedures [2.70.11] to apply for authorisation.

Exposure risks

Research activities that require handling, storage, use and disposal of carcinogens or highly toxic chemicals can potentially expose staff, students and other workers to the risk of contact through spills.

Poor work practices can result in contamination of work areas and equipment with carcinogen-containing residues. Workers may not be aware they are being exposed to these residues.

The health effects of low-level carcinogen exposure are not known, but it must be assumed there is some level of carcinogenic risk, even from small exposures.

When there is significant risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals, health monitoring may be required.


See the Carcinogens Safety Guidelines [2.70.10] for the job responsibilities of workplace supervisors and individual users of chemical carcinogens.

For responsibilities of staff, supervisors, principal investigators and the Health, Safety and Wellness Division around prohibited and restricted carcinogens, see section 5 of the Carcinogens: Manage Compliance of Prohibited and Restricted Procedures [2.70.11].


You must complete training before you start work with hazardous chemicals or laboratory work. Check the training and induction requirements for hazardous chemicals workers and users, and laboratory workers.