Titanium dioxide: Decision postponed again

On 07 March 2019 the Commission held a special meeting on the reclassification of titanium dioxide. Again no agreement could be reached. The procedure will now only be dealt with again after the European elections (23 to 26 May 2019). The BAV expects a decision in autumn 2019 at the earliest.

The decision as to whether or not titanium dioxide should be classified as “presumed carcinogenic by inhalation” should already be taken at the meeting of the REACH Committee on 14 February 2019. Even in this vote, the qualified majority required for the classification could not be reached.

At the beginning of February 2019, concerns on classification could be raised within the framework of a consultation procedure. Around 500 comments were submitted. The BAV also participated in this process in coordination with our cooperation partner BDE.

Context Briefing

Titanium dioxide – one of the most widely used pigments worldwide

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a white pigment which is used in the food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries as well as in technical applications for the production of paints, lacquers, plastics and textiles. It is one of the most widely used pigments worldwide.

Titanium dioxide – Classification as “Cancerogen 2”?

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is currently examining whether titanium dioxide should be classified as “Cancerogen 2” on the basis of a report by the French Food, Environment and Safety Agency (ANSES). If this assessment were to be made, titanium dioxide would have to be treated as a substance suspected of being cancerous in future. For years, however, it has been investigated whether and to what extent the oral, dermal or inhalative intake of titanium dioxide has health effects on human health – to this day, however, the question has not been clearly answered scientifically. The Scientific Service of the German Bundestag has compiled an overview of current studies: Possible health effects of titanium dioxide on the human body – Current discussion and literature / Mögliche gesundheitliche Auswirkungen von Titandioxid auf den menschlichen Körper – Aktuelle Diskussion und Literatur.

Effects on the waste wood industry

A classification could have far-reaching consequences for the waste wood industry. All wood waste containing more than 1 % by mass of titanium dioxide would have to be treated as hazardous waste if classified as “carcinogen 2”. According to the study „Analysis of the socio-economic impacts of a harmonised classificationof Carcinogen Category 2 for titanium dioxide (TiO2)“, wood coatings or decor papers, for example, could contain significantly higher values. The study gives rise to the fear that many waste wood assortments will have to be treated as hazardous waste in the future. Classification would also pose a great challenge to the processing of waste wood, since titanium dioxide is said to be of particular concern in dust form.

Industry and politics against reclassification

In Germany, there is strong resistance from industry to the planned classification. Our cooperation partner BDE e.V., which represents the interests of BAV e.V. at the European level, has made considerable efforts together with the associations VCI and BDI to combat the planned reclassification. From the point of view of the waste wood industry, we have also drawn the attention of the Federal Government to the drastic consequences for the recycling of waste wood in Germany.

In the meantime, the federal government has spoken out against the classification. The focus must be on protecting workers from dust emissions during the production and processing of titanium dioxide. This would require the introduction and compliance with harmonised workplace limit values throughout Europe, as is already the case in Germany.

Together with the BDE, the BAV supports the proposal of the German federal government. However, a final decision by the Commission is not expected before February 2019.

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