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EU Titanium Dioxide Decision Takes Another Step

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

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Europe's discussion on whether or not titanium dioxide should be classified as a cause of cancer is slowly coming to a head as the European Commission now waits for a March 7 meeting of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals Committee.

What’s Going On

The European Chemicals Agency’s Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) announced June 9, 2017, that it concluded that TiO2, a substance commonly used in paints, construction materials and other industrial and consumer goods, meets the criteria to be classified as a suspected cause of cancer via inhalation, under Category 2.

Ondrej Mangl, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Europe's discussion on whether or not titanium dioxide should e classified as a cause of cancer is slowly coming to a head as the European Commission now waits for a March 7 meeting of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals Committee.

This followed a France dossier that recommended cancer labeling for TiO2. At the time, French regulators argued that the substance is likely a Category 1B carcinogen, meaning it is known to cause cancer in humans. The French regulatory body ANSES sought “harmonized classification” for the substance across the entire EU.

The RAC’s recommendation that it be classed in Category 2 means the body believes TiO2 is a suspected carcinogen and should be treated as if it causes cancer, but stops short of calling the substance a "known carcinogen."

TiO2, a 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.

Coatings Industry Response

The American Coatings Association issued a statement Monday following the RAC’s 2017 announcement 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,” the statement reads. “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.

© iStock.com / 4x-images

The RAC’s recommendation that it be classed in Category 2 means the body believes TiO2 is a suspected carcinogen and should be treated as if it causes cancer, but stops short of calling the substance a known carcinogen.

The Titanium Dioxide Manufacturers Association, which represents the TiO2 industry, has 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.”

What Now

According to European Coatings, the REACH Committee met on Feb. 14 to discuss the chemical legislation for several hours before postponing the topic to a special meeting on March 7.

If the committee doesn’t come to a qualified majority decision, the topic will be put in th hands of the new European Commission after elections in the fall.

"This now gives the European Commission the opportunity to make up for the lack of assessment of the economic and social consequences," said Martin Engelmann, Managing Director of the German Paint Manufacturers Industry VdL.

There are officials reportedly looking into creating a workplace limit for TiO2 dust instead of the blanket Category 2 classification.

   

Tagged categories: EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Health & Safety; High-performance coatings; Laws and litigation; TiO2; Titanium dioxide

Comment from Sasha A. Bacic , (3/2/2019, 6:22 PM)

EC is feel so omnipotent that considers hersels the only one eetaining the suprême through! Remeber that she is the one who decided that toilets flush shall not consume more than 7 liters of water!! The général tendance in Europe is reflecting the French attitude: I can't prove that something is dangerous but due to my worries that it can be so, I décide to foraide as a reason of précaution! Today in France, multiple laws and régulations are woted and implemented simply for precaution!


Comment from Michael Halliwell, (3/5/2019, 12:08 PM)

I agree that the science has to be there to support the classification of a material and that the application of a classification must be specific to the hazard (to protect those working with that hazard). I'll also point out that the European safety standards are far faster to update than their US counterparts. It can take NIOSH, OSHA and the EPA decades to get a new regulation (or an update) past the bureaucratic mess of the government (only to be challenged in court by special interest groups). If, like silica and asbestos, mineral powder TiO2 is small enough to get deep into the lungs and lodge there, then the "suspected" rating may be cautious, but would not be unreasonable. Hopefully they also realize that when bound in a coating matrix TiO2 isn't an available inhalation hazard.


Comment from William Gusnard, (3/6/2019, 10:04 AM)

It is not just TiO2 nanoparticles that is a concern. All nanoparticles are an inhalation concern. nanoparticles as a whole are the new asbestos to be concerned with. TiO2 has been on the radar since 1999 and why now. Insulation products can contain up to 5% TiO2 as well. What everybody seems to forget is that there are already regulations on the proper respirators to be used when coating or insulating, but most installers do not use them, How often do see people paint their homes and have no respirators on, even the commercials do not show it being used.


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