The classification of titanium dioxide does not change the dust limit values

Titanium dioxide powders will be classified as potentially carcinogenic by inhalation from October 2021. The effects on many areas are not yet definitively foreseeable, says Sebastian Hanrieder of Kronos. The consequences for occupational health and safety should be more clearly stated.

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What is the current state regarding the classification of titanium dioxide?

Sebastian Hanrieder: Titanium dioxide (TiO2) powder will be classified as category 2 (potentially carcinogenic by inhalation) and this will be binding from 1 October 2021. Although there is an appeal by some companies against the ruling, the long duration of the procedure will not prevent classification for the time being.

What effects does this have on formulators of paints and varnishes?

Hanrieder: Titanium dioxide is one of the most important raw materials for the coatings, paints and printing inks industry and is contained in more than 90% of all paints. The effects on waste management, ecolabels, mandatory labeling in general and several others issues are not yet definitively foreseeable. Regarding the workplace exposure limits, there are unfortunately no uniform regulations throughout the EU (dust limit values of 3-10mg/m³). We understand that the EU plans to establish an EU-wide harmonized limit value to protect employees.  Until then, the existing limits will be observed since the classification itself does not impact those limits. The classification of titanium dioxide does not change the dust limit values applicable in the respective EU member states.

What do manufacturers of facade paints in particular need to be aware of?

Hanrieder: The conditions for manufacturers of facade paints are generally the same as those for all paint and varnish manufacturers. Here, too, it is important to comply with occupational health and safety measures and to label everything correctly. As already mentioned, there may still be consequences for various ecolabels and compliance with them, such as the Blue Angel in Germany.

Are there – due to the corona pandemic – supply bottlenecks for titanium dioxide?

Hanrieder: No, we do not see any indications for this. Kronos adheres to a strict corona safety concept, which means that we can maintain our production at full capacity.

What effects has the pandemic had on your activities in general so far?

Hanrieder: Since mid-March, the application technology departments have been working in “partial home offices” with alternating office staffing. Project discussions and meetings, both internal and external, are usually held via video conference. For our customers, distributors and own employees we offer a series of technical webinars. Customer visits are currently not permitted.

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