European General Court Annuls Classification of Titanium Dioxide as Carcinogenic

The European General Court (EGC) has annulled the decision of the EU Commission to classify titanium dioxide as carcinogenic. The ruling means that companies are no longer required to place a warning label on their products that contain titanium dioxide, as had been  obligatory according to Regulation (EU) 2020/217.

In 2019, the EU Commission had classified powered titanium dioxide as carcinogenic when inhaled. Products containing titanium dioxide then had to carry a warning label. But several manufacturers and suppliers brought suit against the rule, and their suit was successful.

The EGC has now found for the plaintiffs. In their ruling, the judges argued that titanium dioxide does not intrinsically have the property of causing cancer. They stated furthermore that only certain respirable titanium dioxide particles pose an increased risk of causing cancer. This hazard is essentially related to a specific aggregate state of the substance, a particular shape and size of the particles, and an increased exposure load. Classification as carcinogenic, they stated, is therefore not justified.

Experts call the ruling groundbreaking for future decisions on classification.

The case is creating such attention because titanium dioxide is one of the most widely used pigments. About 90% of it is used in the manufacture of coatings, paints, and printing inks as well as in plastics and paper. The white pigment is also found in cosmetics, such as toothpaste and sunscreens.

The ruling does not affect the prohibition of using titanium dioxide in foodstuffs. As of August 8, 2022, foodstuffs containing the food additive and pigment E 171 may not be placed on the market.

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