Titanium dioxide and powder coatings: “The label will be linked to colour

The classification of titanium dioxide in powder form as carcinogenic has caused quite a stir in the coatings industry. What will be the consequences for the powder coatings sector? We spoke with Bjorn Karlsen, chair of the powder coatings sector group at CEPE.

White powder coatings will have a hard time to avoid labeling. (Source: Fotolia RAW - stock.adobe.com) -

To what extent will powder coatings be affected by the classification?

The impact for the powder coatings industry can be found in note W and note 10 of the 14th ATP. What seems clear to us is that the health hazard is defined as related to the aerodynamic diameter of the particles which contain titanium dioxide – and not only pure titanium dioxide. Therefore, powder coatings which use TiO2 for colouring are indeed in the scope of this legislation. The reasoning behind this, as we understand, is related to the inhalation risk. The tricky part is that labelling will be linked to the titanium dioxide content and the micronisation technology that our industry is using.

What will be the implications for powder coatings?

Bjorn Karlsen CEPE

Bjorn Karlsen is chair of the powder coatings sector group at CEPE.

This means that you could end up with a situation where two coatings with the same colour from two different suppliers serving diverse applications are labelled differently. It also means that the label will be linked to colour as pure whites will have a label but black ones do not. And in case of the greys in-between, labelling will depend on the titanium dioxide content and the micronisation technology used.

Do you think that there will be a negative impact on the powder coatings sector?

Some applicators might have a problem handling the new labelling whiles others might have the proper tools in place. I believe there will be a drive towards innovation that helps avoid hazardous labelling whenever possible. This is not solely related to titanium dioxide but a general development. But luckily, our industry is already quite advanced, so I think that most of the industry is fully capable of handling such topics.

Nonetheless, is a good idea for companies to prepare as soon as possible to ensure that, firstly, all of us understand the legislation correctly, secondly, permit implementation, and thirdly, allow innovation to take place giving the opportunity to create products without labels.

What is the Sector Group Powder Coatings doing regarding the legislation?

The sector group is working on a circular letter for members that is also meant to be passed on to their clients. It contains information on the consequences of the 14th ATP and the follow up questions that we anticipate to come from customers for which we need to prepare ourselves. And the answers to these kinds of questions should be communicated well by the experts to avoid misunderstandings in the market place. While we might not all agree with the piktogramm on the label, proper communication is essential to make sure the label is properly understood and communicated along the whole value chain.

What are other projects that the sector group is currently working on?

The priorities now are all issues related to the common clear understanding of legislations and their proper communication along the value chain. In all aspects we are faced with new legislations and safe handling of chemicals is essential for our sector. Powder coatings are well known to be an environmentally friendly solution, so we need to defend the position we already have. Energy use, carbon footprint, cradle to grave – these are issues that are of high importance to us.

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