EU Shelves TiO2 Restrictions for now
The EU member state commitee on Mar. 7 again postponed a decision on whether to restrict the use of titanium dioxide (TiO2) after a qualified majority in favor or opposed could not be found. A new discussion round is not expected before autumn of this year.
Countries planning to vote against restriction included Germany, Poland and the UK. France and the Netherlands planned to vote in favor. With a newly elected Commission and the UK outside the union, the odds for passage of restrictions on the white pigment in some form or in some products – may shift in the next round.
At last week’s session, disagreement among the member states centered on several points, in particular whether or not TiO2 should be categorized as a possible carcinogen or products made with it carry warning labels.
Proponents of restricting the substance in its entirety rejected a derogation proposed by the Commission, Slovenia and the UK that would have limited action to the substance as an inhalable powder, reflecting possible risks in the workplace or, alternatively, excluded particle toxicity and/or the liquid form from the classification.
Jointly, several environment NGOs had pushed for listing the substance as a possible carcinogen with appropriate restrictions, following the recommendation of the Lyon, France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization (WHO). One NGO, the European Environment Bureau, accused industry of spending millions on lobbying for a potential health hazard.
After lengthy studies, IARC concluded that the evidence supported classification as a possible carcinogen when inhaled. This is a category below its hotly discussed recommendation that the herbicide active ingredient glyphosate be labeled a probable carcinogen.
The Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) of the European Chemicals Agency ECHA also recommended classifying TiO2 as a possible carcinogen through inhalation and proposed labeling it accordingly. Accepting this recommendation would have made it eligible for listing as a substance of very high concern (SVHC) under REACH.
TiO2 producers and the chemical industry in general took issue with RAC’s proposed classification, with the coatings industry sharply opposed to attaching warning labels.
During the lengthy deliberation process, the Titanium Dioxide Manufacturers Association (TDMA), along with the British Coatings Federation and Germany’s Verband der Lackindustrie, spoke out against labeling.
Germany’s waste disposal and recycling federation BDE said it feared that labeling TiO2 a possible carcinogen would throw up barriers to waste collection under the country’s” green dot” national collection and recycling scheme