Safety Services


Working with controlled chemicals

Controlled chemicals are those that are subjected to additional legislation to COSHH, this may require the department to hold a licence before work can begin.

Controlled chemicals legislation 

For all controlled chemicals; UCL must​:

  1. Store the chemical in a safe and secure manner – The manner in which the chemical will be stored will depend on the chemical.​

  2. Report any unexpected or unexplained loss to the correct authority – To do this UCL is required to keep a record of how much of each controlled chemical is on-site and know how much is being used.​

The department using the chemical is responsible for ensuring that they meet these requirements.

Safety Services will provide advice on whether a chemical is controlled and carry out annual checks on the quantities kept by UCL and for what purpose​.

Chemical Legislation

Each different group has a different set of legislation for listing the chemicals that are included and the rules in place to use, store or produce them.​ Different legislation has designated different chemicals as controlled. 

Chemical Weapons Convention

Chemicals that are or can be used to produce chemical weapons. Divided into 3 schedules. UCL does not have permission to store or use Schedule 1 and must report each year all quantities of Schedule 2 and 3 brought, stored, used or produced on-site.​

CWC - Chemical Weapons Convention

The Misuse of Drugs Act 

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 is one of the UK Government's Controlled Chemicals Acts and Regulations due to the possibility for the use in illegal activities.

Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
The Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001

Drug precursor regulation

Chemicals that are registered as drugs or are used in the manufacture of drugs. Divided into 5 schedules. Each department working with a chemical listed in schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Act must have a licence.​ See above.

Explosives Act

These are chemicals that are classed as Class 1 substance or have been classified as unduly sensitive to reactive to a spontaneous reaction. ​

There are 6 factors that have to be considered for a substance to classify as an explosive. ​

UCL can hold, in a single location;​

Desensitised explosives or 5g of any explosive. ​

For demonstration purposes, 0.5 g may be used only if used completely in the experiment.​

For all other quantities, each department must have a licence that lists that explosive. Annex I and II of the Schedule 2 lists the exemptions for the need for licences​

​There are 2 further groups that are of concern​. 

Explosive precursors

Chemicals that can be used to manufacture explosive substances. Listed in the various regulations as regulated poisons. UCL as a proper entity (not a member of the public) does not need a licence but are still controlled chemicals.​


These are chemicals that are highly toxic to people. Listed in the various regulations as regulated poisons. UCL as a proper entity (not a member of the public) does not need a licence, but are still controlled chemicals.

See HSE Explosives

The Pharmacy and Poisons Act

The Pharmacy and Poisons Act is one of the UK Government's Controlled Chemicals Acts and Regulations due to the possibility for the use in illegal activities.

Poisons Act 1972

Antiterrorism Act​

Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 restricts the use, and storage of chemicals that can be used as weapons of mass destruction. This Act also covers the relevant biological substances as it amends the Biological Weapons Act 1974 and Chemicals Weapons Act 1996.

> Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001

Environmental Act​

The Environment Act enacts the regulations that govern how to treat the waste produced by hazardous chemicals. These include solid and liquid waste entering waste streams and waste that directly enters the atmosphere such as the discharge from fume cupboards.

Environment Act 1995

Nuclear Safeguards​

Nuclear safeguards are measures to verify that countries comply with their international obligations not to use nuclear materials for nuclear explosives. Please see the Radiation pages for further information.

What are nuclear safeguards?

Getting a controlled chemical licence​ →

UCL chemical licence exemptions – Letter to suppliers

UCL has permission to use a number of controlled chemicals because it is a research teaching institution. If you are asked to send proof to suppliers on UCL letterhead, please use our licence exemption guidance and email a copy to safety@ucl.ac.uk

Chemical exemption letter guidance →

Last updated: Tuesday, March 16, 2021