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TiO2: Cause for Concern?

Monday, June 13, 2016

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A European institution committed to the protection of human health with respect to the environment, the workplace and food has issued a proposal to require titanium dioxide (Ti02) to be labeled a carcinogen.

France’s Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) suggests that TiO2—a substance commonly used in paints, construction materials and other industrial and consumer goods—is likely a category 1B carcinogen by inhalation.

lot striping
© / baona

Titanium dioxide, a white, inorganic substance, occurs naturally in several kinds of rock and mineral sands and can be manufactured for use as a pigment or as a nanomaterial. It is commonly used in paints and coatings formulations.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) released the ANSES dossier May 31, which proposes a harmonized classification for the substance, according to the American Coatings Association and other reports.

The comment period for the proposal will close July 15. The chemicals agency will then have 18 months to make a recommendation to the European Commission, which will make the final call on the proposal.

The white inorganic substance occurs naturally in several kinds of rock and mineral sands and has been used in many products for decades. It can be manufactured for use as a pigment or as a nanomaterial.

Potential Impact

"If the French proposal to classify titanium dioxide as a 1B (human carcinogen) under ECHA's [Regulation on the Classification, Labeling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures] CLP is accepted, it may require all paints formulated with TiO2 within the EU to be classified as carcinogens," Stephen Wieroniey of the ACA told D+D News.

This would affect all products sold in the countries that make up the 28 EU member states, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

ECHA logo

The European Chemicals Agency released the ANSES dossier May 31, which proposes a harmonized classification for the substance.

Under the CLP, substances identified as category 1A and 1B carcinogens are restricted in consumer applications, meaning paint formulations would not be available to consumers.

Thus, paint and coating products containing TiO2 could only be sold to professional users under the new classification, he noted.

"In addition, if this classification formally approved by the European Commission, ACA expects that it could have impact across the global marketplace, as environmental groups and national governments may embrace the EU classification as a basis for their own requirements," Wieroniey added.

Industry Responds

In a statement issued in response to the proposal, the Titanium Dioxide Manufacturers Association, a nonprofit group of Cefic: the European Chemical Industry Council, reports it already assessed the substance’s classification six years ago.

In that assessment, submitted under the EU Chemicals Policy known as the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals regulations (REACH), the industry found that, based on assessment of the scientifically valid studies, "TiO2 should not be classified in any of its forms for any end points."

"[That conclusion was] supported by the findings of epidemiology studies of 20,000 workers in 15 Titanium Dioxide manufacturing plants over several decades which showed no adverse health effects from occupational exposure," TDMA added.

The industry assessment has further been updated with new findings and subsequent studies, according to TDMA.

However, the association says it is “carefully reviewing” the French proposal and will provide “a detailed response to the ECHA public consulation.”

ACA also reports it is monitoring the issue, along with its European counterpart CEPE, to ensure the paint and coatings industry is appropriately represented during the regulatory process.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Coating chemistry; Coating Materials; Coatings raw materials manufacturers; Construction chemicals; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Health and safety; Latin America; North America; Pigments; Raw materials; Titanium dioxide

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