Debunking the myths of titanium dioxide and cancer

substance in powder form

Robust, scientific evidence shows that titanium dioxide (TiO2) is safe. Here’s what you need to know.

For over one hundred years, TiO2 has been used throughout many different industries due to its unique qualities. The bright white pigment can block radiation from the sun and adds vibrancy to the colour and long-lasting durability of numerous everyday products, such as paints, plastics, paper and inks, and is widely used in countries across the world. Based on its long-term use and well-known presence in products across the globe, scientists from industry groups and independent researchers have been able to conduct decades of in-depth research on the safety of TiO2.

This research consistently confirms that there is no evidence of potential cancer risk to humans from TiO2. In addition, TiO2 is subject to ongoing assessments for safety by a large number of regulatory authorities on a global basis, and has consistently been found to be safe for a broad variety of applications.

There is no reliable and accurate scientific evidence of cancer in humans from exposure to any form of TiO2 , including nanoparticles. However, in February 2020, the European Commission mistakenly classified certain powder forms of TiO2 as a category 2 suspected carcinogen by inhalation. This classification has since been reviewed and annulled in a judgement delivered by the General Court of the European Union in November 2022.

The principal reasons for the annulment were that an error had been made in the assessment of the reliability and acceptability of the study on which the classification was based, and that a classification can only apply to a substance that has the intrinsic property to cause cancer.

You can read the TDMA’s response to the ruling here.

What do consumers need to know about products containing TiO2?

TiO2 is an inert, poorly soluble, mineral-based substance that has safely been in use in many products such as sunscreens, cosmetics and medicines. In consumer products, TiO2 is incorporated into and becomes part of the finished product. There is no evidence to suggest that it causes cancer in humans in any form, whether solid pigmentary form or as nano forms.