Titanium dioxide is found, for example, in wall paint, toothpaste and sunscreen. The substance often has no functional value, but only makes the paste or pill whiter. It has been suspected for several years that the color pigment is carcinogenic.

Banned since the beginning of the year

Titanium dioxide has been banned from foods since the beginning of the year because negative effects on the human genome and a possible risk of cancer could not be ruled out. The new solution does not change this. It was about the powder form of the substance – the EU Commission in 2019 ruled that the dye is carcinogenic when inhaled in the form of a powder.

It was about powder mixtures containing at least one percent of titanium dioxide in the form of particles or embedded in particles with an aerodynamic diameter of not more than ten micrometers. This did not ban titanium dioxide, but it should have come with a warning. On the other hand, various manufacturers and dealers have taken legal action.

Now the EU court has agreed with them. The judges criticized that the EU Commission and the responsible European Chemicals Agency made an obvious error in assessing the reliability of the study on which the classification was based.

Not all important aspects are taken into account

Such a classification should be based on reliable and recognized research. In the court’s opinion, this was not the case: in the main study, the degree of overload of the lungs with titanium dioxide particles was incorrectly determined, since not all important aspects were included in the calculations. For example, the special properties of the particles were not sufficiently taken into account. Therefore, the Chemicals Agency made the wrong conclusions, which were accepted by the EU Commission.

Also, a substance can only be classified as a carcinogen if it actually has an “intrinsic property” to cause cancer. Therefore, titanium dioxide itself must be carcinogenic. Here, on the other hand, according to the court, the risk of cancer exists only in connection with certain respirable particles of titanium dioxide, if they are present in a certain state of aggregation, a certain form, a certain size and a certain quantity. Therefore, this is not sufficient for classification as a carcinogen.

© dpa-infocom, dpa:221123-99-635454/3
© dpa