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.”
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.