Chemical Authorisation

Particularly Dangerous Chemicals

The use of hazardous substances is under authorisation. It is advisable to substitute the toxic chemical for a less dangerous one, but it is not always possible.

These particularly hazardous chemicals include chemicals who classified as category 1 regarding their acute toxicity, or carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, reproductive toxicity (CMR), single exposure specific target organ toxicity (STOT-SE), as well as highly reactive chemicals, such as strong oxidizers.

Examples of substances under authorization (non-exhaustive list):

  • Solvents (benzene, carbon tetrachloride, trichloroethylene)
  • Reagents (aflatoxins, sodium azide, TMAH, dimethyl sulphate, p-phenylenediamine etc.)
  • Metals and their salts (lead, nickel, cadmium, chromates, arsenic, mercury, beryllium, osmium tetroxide)
  • Cyanide salts
  • Acids (picric acid, nitric acid, perchloric acid, hydrofluoric acid)

Always check the safety data sheet (SDS) of your chemicals substances prior to using them.

To buy and use these dangerous substances, an EPFL authorization must be acquired from the OHS. 

EPFL authorization procedure

  1. The request form can be filled completely online via the Authorization Request.
  2. The professor/lab head approves the request that is then transferred to OHS.
  3. When OHS has received the request, we contact the requester for a work place visit.
  4. An authorization is given only when the previous steps have been completed.
  5. The user validates the authorization and the conditions.
  6. The authorization is then used to order the substance through the purchasing platform Catalyse.

OHS recommends users to report the use of all chemicals that are classified as highly toxic.

If you want an authorization for several metal compounds with the same core metal (for example PbCl2, PbI2, PbCl4, etc.), it is enough to fill in one request and the authorization team can add the additional CAS numbers to the same form during the authorization visit. Please prepare a list of CAS numbers for the visit.

EPFL authorization renewal

If you have an authorization that is about to expire and you still need the chemical you can renew it by following this link if the amount and procedure are the same as in the original authorization.

Forbidden substances

List of substances that are forbidden in Switzerland.

Drugs and precursors – authorization by SWISSMEDIC

The purchase and use of drugs or drug precursors falling into the category of “Controlled substances” as defined by the Swiss Federal Narcotics Law (OCStup; OTStup-DFI), are subject to authorization by SWISSMEDIC.

If your research unit needs to order chemicals listed in the tables of narcotics, psychotropic substances and precursors (OTStup-DFI, see tables Annexes 1 to 7), you must apply for an authorization using the attached form (form is only available in French, German or Italian). The person indicated as responsible in the authorization application must provide a CV, copies of diplomas and an extract from the criminal record issued less than 6 months prior to the authorization application.

In addition, the authorization request should contain the following information:

  • Contact details/address of the responsible person.
  • List of chemical products for which you need an authorization.

For each of the listed chemical, you must give:

  • The name of the product, the CAS number, the supplier’s name, the quantity of the container(s) which will be ordered.
  • A brief description of the research activities which will be carried out (typical protocol to be used; average quantities which are used). If the procedure is reported you can include the corresponding reference and pdf of the publication.
  • The storage conditions.

Authorization is delivered for 5 years and is valid only for the chemicals specified in the application. Renewal of the authorization may be requested on presentation of a detailed report on the quantities ordered/stored and the nature of the reactions carried out, for each of the chemicals included in the authorization.

Where to address your SWISSMEDIC authorization request

Depending on the products for which you are applying, you must submit your application either to the cantonal or to the federal authorities.

For all precursors (Appendix 7, table f):

  • For research units based on the Lausanne campus, you must send your authorization applications to the following address:

Service de la santé publique, à l’attention du Pharmacien cantonal

Office du Médecin cantonal

Domaine Autorisations, Contrôle et Inspections

Avenue des Casernes 2

1014 Lausanne


  • For research units based on the Sion campus, please send your requests for authorization to the following address:

Département de la santé, des affaires sociales, et de la culture

Service de la santé publique

Avenue de la Gare 23

1950 Sion


For other substances (Annexes 1 to 6), please send your applications directly to Berne:

Swissmedic, Institut des produits thérapeutiques

Division stupéfiants

Hallerstrasse 7

3012 Berne