Airborne contaminants

Airborne contaminants are potentially harmful and are carried in fumes, vapours, gases, mists and dusts.

Must do's

There are specific laws about preventing workers from being exposed to airborne contaminants. Here we summarise these laws and give you some practical tips.

Check exposure standards

You must ensure that no-one in your workplace is subject to airborne contaminants of substances above the exposure standard.

If the substance has no specific exposure standard, it may still be harmful. Check international exposure standards and keep exposure to a minimum.

Check the atmosphere

Air monitoring must be carried out when:

  • you are unsure if the exposure standard has been exceeded
  • it is necessary to determine if there is a risk to health.

Records of atmospheric monitoring must be kept for 30 years. Results must be provided to anyone on whom personal monitoring has been conducted and to anyone who has been (or might be) exposed.

More information

For the specific laws about preventing exposure to airborne contaminants, see clauses 49 – 50 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017.

There are also general work health and safety laws that will apply to you in any situation, including with regards to airborne contaminants in the workplace.

For a list of exposure standards, see the workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants.

Read the safety alert New classification - welding fumes and UV radiation.

For practical information about specific groups of substances, complying with exposure standards and adjusting exposure standards for extended work shifts, see guidance on the interpretation of workplace exposure standards for airborne contaminants.

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