20th August 2017

TiO2 COMES UNDER EUROPEAN SCRUTINY

Titanium dioxide has long been seen as one of the more benign substances used in the paint and coatings industry. The industry uses an estimated 60 percent of global production of this naturally occurring pigment. 

Now, airborne TiO2 dust has come under suspicion in Europe as a possible carcinogen. Following a French initiative, the European Chemicals Agency's Committee for Risk Assessment has concluded that the available scientific evidence meets the criteria in the CLP Regulation to classify titanium dioxide as a substance suspected of causing cancer through the inhalation route. The opinion will be formally adopted later by written procedure, or at ECHA's September meeting.

The committee has announced it assessed the carcinogenic potential of titanium dioxide against the criteria in the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation and, having considered the available scientific data, concluded that it meets the criteria to be classified as suspected of causing cancer (category 2, through the inhalation route).

The committee also concluded that there was insufficient evidence to classify titanium dioxide in the more severe category for carcinogenicity (category 1B) as was originally proposed by the dossier submitter, France. This more severe category refers to a substance which is presumed to cause cancer. There is also no suggestion that TiO2 is carcinogenic when actually used in paint.

Following adoption, the opinion will go through a normal editorial check before it is sent to the European Commission for final decision making. The opinion will also be made available on ECHA’s website at the same time. RAC first discussed titanium dioxide at its meeting in March 2017.

RAC, the statement said, provides an independent scientific opinion on the hazard classification of the substance. The classification is based solely on the hazardous properties of the substance, and does not take into account the likelihood of exposure to the substance; and it therefore does not address the risks of exposure. 

The American Coatings Association issued a statement on June 12 asserting that the recommendation is unfounded. “There is considerable industry concern that the basis for the opinion is flawed and does not inform on risk to humans,” it says. “It is important to consider that the risks profiled are not attributable formulated products, like paint, where TiO2 dust is embedded in the mixture.”

In the coatings industry, TiO2 is most notably used as a white pigment, in industrial and protective coatings as well as architectural paints. The ACA has repeatedly expressed concerns that all paint products containing the substance could be labeled as carcinogens under the EU’s classification system.

The Titanium Dioxide Manufacturers Association (TDMA), which represents the TiO2 industry, also issued a statement expressing its disappointment in the recommendation.

“The scientific evidence is clear: There are no grounds for classifying TiO2 as carcinogenic for humans by inhalation,” said Robert Bird, chairman of the TDMA. “Also, classification would do nothing to increase the level of protection of human health and the environment, which is the whole point of the labelling and classification system.”

https://echa.europa.eu/-/titanium-dioxide-proposed-to-be-classified-as-suspected-of-causing-cancer-when-inhaled