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European NGOs, including WECF, express titanium dioxide concerns

A group of NGOs led by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) has written to the Titanium Dioxide Manufacturers Association (TDMA) to express their continuing concerns about the safety of the substance

26.09.2013 |Chemical Watch




A group of NGOs led by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) has written to the Titanium Dioxide Manufacturers Association (TDMA) to express their continuing concerns about the safety of the substance.

In a letter, seen by Chemical Watch, the NGOs say they would particularly like to reiterate their worries “regarding the contradictory information disseminated by chemicals manufacturers in relation to titanium dioxide”. They add that some of the information “disregards scientific studies used for the evaluation of associated risks” with exposure to the chemical.

Industry accused of 'disregarding' science

In a document published earlier this year, the TDMA concluded that: “Titanium dioxide is a global product with many important applications that has been proven as safe in its intended uses over many decades.” However the NGOs say that this conclusion is based on several “incorrect” assumptions, including “confusing the use of protection measures with the idea that the material is inherently safe”.  Their letter also states that the TDMA wrongly suggests that all the studies it refers to are valid for the nanosize form, and that it “incorrectly assumes that all surface treatment forms have the same risk profile”.

The NGOs draw attention to the fact that six notifiers for ECHA's classification and labelling inventory have classified titanium dioxide in the ultrafine/nanoform as a possible carcinogen. They urge the manufacturers' association to recognise the validity of the information registered by these six notifiers. They also highlight the listing of the substance as a possible carcinogen category 2B by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and as a potential occupational carcinogen by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh).

The TDMA disputes the reclassification of titanium dioxide by the IARC because the inhalation study on which the reclassification was based was carried out on rats. "The opinion of our experts is that the fact that the rat is uniquely sensitive should have kept titanium dioxide in category 3 [not classifiable for human carcinogenicity]," says the association.

In a letter sent to the European Commission after the publication of the EU's second regulatory review on nanomaterials (CW 3 October 2012), NGOs said that "unsound science” had provided the basis for the review as it "failed to take into account recent conclusions from the IARC and other studies recognising the carcinogenicity of certain nanomaterials such as titanium dioxide and carbon black" (CW 23 October 2012).
France plans to evaluate titanium dioxide next year under the Community Rolling Action Plan (Corap) (CW 22 March 2012).
 
The TDMA IARC statement can be found here
NGOs letter, co-signed by WECF can be found here
 

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