TiO2 proposed to be labelled as carcinogen in Europe 07-03-2017

The European risk assessment committee has recently proposed to label TiO2 as a carcinogen, backed up by laboratory results made on rats. The approval would have a significant effect on the whole titanium dioxide chain, while industry associations are opposing the proposal as unfounded and hastily

Source: Pixabay


Issued by the French environmental and occupational health agency, the risk assessment committee of the European Chemicals Agency has proposed to label titanium dioxide (TiO2) as a potential carcinogen. The Agency states to have the scientific evidence, that TiO2 can cause cancer through the inhalation route, which would cause the classification in Category 2.  

This classification is not enough for the French agency. It has proposed to label TiO2 in Category 1B, which means the substance is likely to cause the growth of cancer in the human body. However, this classification was not supported by the Committee for Risk Assessment, which sees no justification for this claim.  

According to ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC), the available scientific evidence meets the criteria for the Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulation (CLP Regulation) to classify TiO2 as a substance suspected of causing cancer through the inhalation route.  

As TiO2 is the most used white pigment for worldwide plenty of industries, the actual classification might have a deep impact on the global TiO2 market, which is dominated by China’s suppliers. After all, the white pigment is used in several consumer goods just like paints, coatings, plastic, paper, cosmetic, medicines and even foods. According to market intelligence firm CCM, TiO2 makes up between 10.4% and up to 57.4% of the total sales in the paint and coatings, plastics, and papers industry.  

Some studies about the topic have revealed, that rodent, which is exposed to high levels of TiO2 nanoparticles, have shown signs of respiratory tract cancer.  

Responses of the industries

Several industries, like the American Coatings Association, have responded negatively to the proposal and claim it to be unfounded. The Association fears, that the new label would cause all painting products with TiO2 pigments would be classified as carcinogens if the proposal gets approved.  

The Titanium Dioxide Manufacturers’ Association has announced on their website, that a link between cancer and TiO2 cannot be established. Even independent institutions could not find an evidence for any cancer effects on humans. The laboratory studies would expose rats which far higher concentration of TiO2 than workers or consumers ever make contact to. Particularly, the epidemiological studies on 240,000 workers over 50 years have proved that there is no connection between cancer and exposure to TiO2.  

The Canadian Paint and Coatings Association has announced its concerns, that the proposal will inevitably lead to doubts and hesitation of companies all along the Worldwide titanium dioxide industry chain.  

The British Coatings Federation and European Council of Paint, Printing Ink and Artists' Colours Industry states that TiO2 is an unreactive inorganic compound used as white pigment in many industries, including oil paint, coatings, printing inks and wallpaper, and production of some other consumer goods. TiO2, in a powder form, does no harm to oil paint, coatings, printing inks and wallpaper.  

In the end, the European Commission, the lead authority in the EU, is going to decide the future labelling of TiO2. For manufacturers in the related industries, this could have some huge impacts on materials for formulating.  

About CCM

CCM is the leading market intelligence provider for China’s agriculture, chemicals, food & ingredients and life science markets.  

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