EU publishes official regulation on titanium dioxide

The European Union just published the official delegated regulation to classify titanium dioxide as a suspected carcinogen by inhalation. The decision will be applicable after a transitional period. The European coatings industry is criticising this decision.

The new regulation on titanium dioxide will apply in September 2021. (Source: pixelkorn - -

The discussion about the possible risk of titanium dioxide on human health has kept the industry on its toes for about three years now and originated in France. The decision to classify titanium as category 2 suspected carcinogen by inhalation under EU Regulation on classification, labelling and packaging (CLP) of substances and mixtures was made by the European Commission last October and is now official.    

Transition period for titanium dioxide until October 2021

The coatings as well as some other industries protested and lobbied strongly against the classification from the beginning and managed to tone done the classification, however, they were not able to prevent it completely.

With the now published regulation it will be legally binding to make labelling amendments to every mixture that contains more than 1% TiO2. This will come into effect on 1 October 2021. Industry associations are already advising their members to start relabelling at the earliest opportunity.

Loss of eco-labels possible

For paints and inks in liquid form it will be mandatory to apply a warning sentence to warn against spraying and respirable droplets. This seems relatively bearable, since there won’t be any wording that seems too harsh. However, many experts in the industry fear, that most paints and coatings could lose their eco-labelling.  

The effect will be more severe for powder coatings where some will become actually classified mixtures, carrying a pictogram and the phrase “suspected of causing cancer by inhalation”.

Coatings association dissapointed

The European Council of manufacturers of paint, printing ink and artist colours (CEPE) already voiced its regret about the decision and warned that this regulation sets a dangerous precedent for other powdery substances.

The CEPE also states that “the reasons behind the EU Commission’s decision are not related to the chemistry of titanium dioxide, but by the simple presence of dust particles in excessive quantities in the lungs, causing chronic inflammation of the lung cells in rats.”

Jan Gesthuizen

Update: In a first version of this article the end-date for the transition period was stated as 9 September 2021. We updated this date to 1 October 2021 since it changed recently.

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