Scientists at the French Agricultural Research Institute (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique: INRA) found that titanium dioxide (E171) can cause colorectal cancer when used as a food additive. The scientists evaluated tests taken when the animals were given food that contained titanium dioxide for short periods and longer times – and in the concentration typical of food appropriate for humans.
The researchers proved that the titanium dioxide particles passed through the intestinal wall and could reach the liver. They also found the particles in the lymph nodes of the small intestine, where they could weaken the immune system.
For E171, the particle size of titanium dioxide ranges between 30 and 400 nanometers. About a third of the particles have a diameter of less than 100 nanometers. Daily ingestion of feed containing #171 had a toxic effect on the animals, concluded the scientists.
By the end of 2015, the French Agency for Food, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) had suggested harmonized categorization of titanium dioxide into category 1B. That would be a major step on the way to including it the list of substances of very high concern (SVHC). The substance would also be forbidden in consumer products.
The Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) of the ECHA wants to study the request of the French agency to evaluate all existing studies and make a decision by the end of the year.
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