European Court of Justice: Titanium dioxide wrongly classified as carcinogenic

Paint and coatings manufacturers have successfully challenged the classification of titanium dioxide before the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The court declared the corresponding regulation of the EU Commission null and void.

The European Chemicals Agency erred when it assessed a study Image source: studio v-zwoelf -

Titanium dioxide in powder form has been wrongly classified by the EU as carcinogenic. A corresponding regulation of the EU Commission was declared null and void by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on 23 November 2022. The EU Commission committed a manifest error in assessing the reliability of the study on which the classification was based, the court in Luxembourg announced. The ruling can still be appealed.

The EU Commission had decided in 2019 that the substance in powder form is to be classified as carcinogenic if it is inhaled. This involved powders of at least 1 % titanium dioxide particles smaller than 0.01 millimeters. This did not mean that titanium dioxide was banned, but it did have to be accompanied by a warning label. Various companies, in particular paint and coatings manufacturers such as CWS Powder Coatings, and the Titanium Dioxide Manufacturers Association (TDMA) had filed a complaint against this.

Such a classification must be based on reliable and recognized tests, the EU court has now ruled. This was not the case here. In addition, a substance may only be classified as carcinogenic if it actually has the “intrinsic property” of causing cancer.

Titanium dioxide would therefore have to be carcinogenic in itself. Here, however, according to the court, the risk of cancer exists only in conjunction with certain respirable titanium dioxide particles, if they are present in a certain aggregate state, shape, size and quantity. That was not sufficient for classification as carcinogenic, it said.

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