[update] EU Classifies TiO2 as 'Suspected' Carcinogen by Inhalation


Update: It's official. The European Commission (EC) has published its decision to classify titanium dioxide as a carcinogen by inhalation. 

In response, according to a report by Chemical Watch, industries are disputing the decision and even considering legal action against the EC.

Previously, we reported: The Titanium Dioxide Manufacturers Association reports that in a Dec. 3, 2019, vote by European Parliament's Environment Committee, objections to classifying titanium dioxide (TiO2) as a suspected carcinogen by inhalation were dismissed. Sources indicate this could threaten the marketing of sunscreens and other breathable TiO2 particle-containing cosmetics starting in the summer of  2021... if it hasn't already.

For recent history on this ruling and process, European Coatings explained, in its October 8, 2019, report that "on Oct. 4, 2019, the European Commission decided to classify TiO2 in powder form as a substance suspected of causing cancer in humans." This decision followed an expert hearing in September 2019 whereby the majority, nine, EU member states rejected the classification; a minority of six voted in favor of it. 

The same October European Coatings report added, "If no objection is lodged by the Council or the European Parliament within the next two months, the classification will become valid after a transitional period of 18 months; i.e., probably from Summer 2021."

This brings us to current date (December 2019), where objections were dismissed and plans are apparently still in motion to push the classification through. As a result, TiO2 placed on the EU market in powder form must be labelled as carcinogenic. The classification also applies to powdered mixtures containing TiO2 particles. Furthermore, liquid mixtures containing it should include a warning regarding spray applications.

In relation, a report by Chemical Watch described industry reactions to the proposal when it was first made: "Industry ... has argued that titanium dioxide should not be classified as carcinogenic because the proposed mechanism of toxicity is not related to the substance’s chemistry. The toxic effect is caused by physical characteristics, namely the size and shape of the particles, as well as the poor solubility—characteristics that are common to many substances. ... [The industry also] warned of a possible 'domino effect' for other poorly soluble, low toxicity particles." 

Stay tuned as we follow continuing developments.

Update: New Labeling Required

A new report by the group Chemical Watch confirms the decision has been published. The new designation will require powders containing either 1% or more of TiO2, or with an "aerodynamic diameter" of 10 μm or less, to display cancer warnings. Other product forms and mixtures will require instructions on the correct use and precautionary measures to minimize hazards to consumers.

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