EU Titanium Dioxide Decision Takes Another Step

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.


Amazon is to ban the listing and sale of paint strippers containing methylene chloride and n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP)

As an update to my email about the Amazon Restricted Substance List below, we now hear that Amazon is to ban the listing and sale of paint strippers containing methylene chloride and n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP). Amazon has indicated that the policy will apply globally from March next year. Companies selling paint strippers online will have to provide Amazon with documents confirming that they do not contain the two solvents.

Whilst not immediately affecting BCF members, the following will be of interest due to the potential for future activities. Amazon, the online retailer has announced a chemicals management policy and published a restricted substance list (RSL). It also plans improved transparency of its efforts. The policy aims to avoid chemicals of concern in products.. It defines these as chemicals that meet CMR criteria, or that are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT). The RSL lists 54 chemicals it is seeking to avoid in Amazon-owned private brand baby, household cleaning, personal care and beauty products sold in the US. It aims to expand the product categories, brands and geographies covered over time. It focuses in particular on:

    • phthalates;
    • nonylphenol (NP) and nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE) surfactants;
    • parabens;
    • formaldehyde-releasing preservatives; as well as
  • toluene and triclosan

Regarding transparency, the policy sets a goal of making health and sustainability data “as easy for customers to access and interpret as price and customer reviews” for products and will work to achieve fuller ingredient disclosure for its own brands. It is looking to add website features to make it easier for customers to access information about product ingredients and third-party certifications.


Paint Companies Argue Lead Paint Appeal

Three current and former paint-industry companies are arguing their appeal in hopes of reversing a $1.15 billion judgment in the state of California that would require an abatement of contamination caused by decades-old lead paint.

In a hearing Thursday (Aug. 24), attorneys representing The Sherwin-Williams Company, ConAgra Grocery Products Co. and NL Industries Inc. argued for a reversal of the Dec. 2013 ruling, which initially dictated that all three companies must shell out a total of $1.15 billion to abate lead paint contamination in affected homes in the state of California.

Primary points of the companies’ argument included that moving forward with the abatement would uphold an unprecedented expansion of public nuisance law, and that the companies themselves should not be held liable for old advertisements that promoted the use of lead-based paint.

“The plaintiff historians were unable to provide a single advertisement where Sherwin-Williams advertised lead-based paint for interior use or white lead carbonate in old lead paint in any of its advertising,” Tony Dias, a partner at Jones Day, which is representing Sherwin-Williams for this case, told Durability + Design News.

The Lawsuit

The lawsuit, which was originally filed in 2000, intended to hold several gas, paint and chemical companies accountable for was deemed a massive public health crisis brought on by the presence of lead paint in a number of California homes and buildings.

© iStock.com / Marilyn Nieves
Sherwin-Williams and two other former lead-paint manufacturers are appealing for a reversal of a $1.15 billion judgement that would require an abatement of contamination caused by the paint.

During the 2013 trial, Judge Kleinberg dismissed Atlantic Richfield and DuPont, subsequently ordering Sherwin-Williams, ConAgra and NL Industries to pay $1.1 billion into a fund that would be distributed to the 10 cities and counties affected, as needed. At the time, the court also denied Sherwin-Williams’ cross-claim, which cited that intact lead-based paint was not a hazard under state law, and that property owners were responsible for the abatement of the associated hazards.

In 2014, the judge increased the liability to $1.15 billion. That same year, after being denied the vacation of an amended judgement and the granting of a new trial, the three defendants filed notices of appeal, which effected an automatic stay of the judgement.

In the latest appeal, those paint companies still involved in the lawsuit appealed for an overturn of the abatement ruling, given that, according to the companies, it conflicts with evidence, is not in line with public nuisance law in the state of California, and conflicts with existing regulations that seek to prevent children being exposed to lead.

Sherwin-Williams asked the court to have the plaintiff identify specifically where the public nuisance existed in individual properties. The companies were not given permission to inspect these properties.

The defendants currently seek for the judgement to be vacated at minimum, remanding for a new trial.

Arguments for the Appeal

As it stands, the companies argue that they could not have known of the public health risk at the time the lead-based paints were produced decades ago. It was in 1978 that the federal government banned the use of this kind of paint in residential buildings, and lawyers for the companies note that the paint industry had already been working with authorities for 20 years to eliminate lead in interior paint. The companies also argue that the real risks associated with lead dust were not fully understood until the 1970s.

The impact of the coating has also been mitigated by both laws and mandated inspections to prevent hazards associated with lead-based paint, the paint companies assert. Government entities maintain that well-maintained paint does not pose a hazard to children, the attorneys for the firms note, and the responsibility for maintenance falls on property owners. If hazards do arise, people have not been maintaining their property accordingly, and inspectors have failed to enforce standards, the companies say.

The companies also argue that, in California, the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program was established three decades ago to address these concerns, and what has resulted is steadily declining blood lead levels. The program allows intact lead paint to remain in place.

If the judgment moves forward as decided in 2013, the companies argue that for properties where lead-based paint has been used, if the owners do not want them inspected, the property itself will essentially wind up on a government “blacklist,” which can impact value.

Meanwhile, a massive abatement program throughout the state for lead paint that’s been undisturbed in the past could have effects opposite their intention, the lawyers for the companies argue..

“The decisions here at the trial court put in place an abatement program that that is not only unwarranted, but is also unfair and unwise,” Dias said.

“There’s never been a program like this before in history, and as was cited at trial, the risks here of releasing more lead into the environment as part of the abatement program is a serious one.”