At its meeting in April, the REACH regulations committee crossed out “classification of titanium dioxide” on its agenda at the last minute, thereby postponing a decision on how titanium dioxide products will be classified in the future until the fall.
As early as September 2018, the EU Commission suggested placing powdery titanium dioxide and powdery mixtures that contain 1% or more of titanium dioxide particles (≤10 µm) in Annex VI of the CLP Regulation as probably carcinogenic by inhalation (Category 2, classified with GHS08 and H351).The French agency ANSES got the ball rolling.
Since then, industry representatives, including the German Chemical Industry Council (in deutsch) and the Paint and Printing Ink Association (VDL) criticized the new classification. The manufacturers of paint, lacquers, and printing inks would bear the brunt of the decision, given that they consume about 60% of the titanium dioxide pigments that are produced.
The critics argue that the carcinogenic effects of titanium dioxide are not an intrinsic property of the chemical itself, but a general particle effect that applies for all dusts. Martin Engelmann, executive director of DVL, called for a total EU harmonization of threshold values for dust at the workplace. He stated that consumers rarely come into contact with titanium dioxide powder, so that danger for consumers is not an issue.On its Web site, the VDL provides information that includes a file on titanium dioxide with numbers and facts about the white pigment (both available in German only).
In fact, the proposed classification would have wide-reaching consequences. The labels of lacquers and paints would have to include hazard pictogram GHS08. Use of the chemical in cosmetics like toothpaste and sunscreen might also apply, as would limitations on its use in materials that come into contact with food, dyes, and medications. An enhanced classification would also affect the waste industry, since 1% of titanium dioxide in waste would make the waste hazardous, meaning that it would have to be disposed of in an approved facility.
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