Check the label...
Titanium Dioxide?
Perhaps You Should
THINK TWICE before buying?

Titanium Dioxide has been classified as "Possibly Carcinogenic to Humans" - yet still appears in the formulation of many well known household, and even personal care products such as toothpaste!

Even more worrying...this chemical ingredient is used in almost all suncreams made for children! (as well as many products for adults too) - It makes the cream bright and white (you've seen that stuff that skiers

plaster on their nose and cheeks? Yes...this ingredient makes the cream white!)...and whilst it helps reduce exposure to possibly harmful rays (you may know there is a debate about this going on, too!)...could Titanium Dioxide itself be posing more of a health risk than it is worth?

Yet another reason to be wary of the chemicals that appear in the products you use for skincare, hair care, body care and cosmetics...This common ingredient which is now under suspicion should be provide even more impetus to why you should choose a safer alternative...


"Titanium dioxide has recently been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen 'possibly carcinogen to humans'...(it) accounts for 70% of the total production volume of pigments worldwide. It is widely used to provide whiteness and opacity to products such as paints, plastics, papers, inks, foods, and toothpastes. It is also used in cosmetic and skin care products, and it is present in almost every sunblock, where it helps protect the skin from ultraviolet light.

With such widespread use of titanium dioxide, it is important to understand that the IARC conclusions are based on very specific evidence. This evidence showed that high concentrations of pigment-grade (powdered) and ultrafine titanium dioxide dust caused respiratory tract cancer in rats exposed by inhalation and intratracheal instillation*. The series of biological events or steps that produce the rat lung cancers (e.g. particle deposition, impaired lung clearance, cell injury, fibrosis, mutations and ultimately cancer) have also been seen in people working in dusty environments. Therefore, the observations of cancer in animals were considered, by IARC, as relevant to people doing jobs with exposures to titanium dioxide dust. For example, titanium dioxide production workers may be exposed to high dust concentrations during packing, milling, site cleaning and maintenance, if there are insufficient dust control measures in place. However, it should be noted that the human studies conducted so far do not suggest an association between occupational exposure to titanium dioxide and an increased risk for cancer.

The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is Canada's hazard communication standard. The WHMIS Controlled Products Regulations require that chemicals, listed in Group 1 or Group 2 in the IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of the Carcinogenic Risk of Chemicals to Humans, be classified under WHMIS Class D2A (carcinogenic). The classification decision on titanium dioxide has been published on the IARC website and in a summary article published in The Lancet.

Representatives from Health Canada (National Office of WHMIS) recently consulted with the Quebec CSST and CCOHS (the two main agencies providing WHMIS classifications to the public) regarding the implications of the IARC decision to the WHMIS classification of titanium dioxide. It was agreed that titanium dioxide does now meet the criteria for WHMIS D2A (carcinogen) based on the information released by IARC to date, and that it is not necessary to wait for release of the full monograph.

Manufacturers and suppliers of titanium dioxide are advised to review and update their material safety data sheets and product labels based on this new information as soon as possible. Employers should review their occupational hygiene programs to ensure that exposure to titanium dioxide dust is eliminated or reduced to the minimum possible. Workers should be educated concerning this potential newly recognized risk to their health and trained in proper work procedures.

* Intratracheal administration is an exposure procedure that introduces the material directly into the lungs via the trachea, bypassing protective mechanisms in the respiratory system."

More information:
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC): Titanium dioxide (IARC Group 2B), Summary of data reported, Feb. 2006


We just received an interesting email observation from a reader and it made me stop to think a moment about the foregoing 'denunciation' of 'yet another' chemical used in products that many folks are still happy to plaster over themselves and their kids.

The reader quite rightly points out that the form of Titanium Dioxide that appears to be an agent for causing cancer is the fine white dust, that has been shown, when breathed in by rats, to cause significant numbers of tumours.

It is fair to agree with the writer when she notes that that this does not mean that Titanium Dioxide in a cream causes cancer directly. (But it may also probably be equally fair to add that we JUST DON'T KNOW if it might!)

But the point of raising this alarm about a chemical that MIGHT be innocuous when added to other chemicals in a cream base, is to say two main things...which maybe were not clear enough here:

(1) If we know that a chemical is highly suspected to be causative of cancer in humans by some form of ingestion is is REALLY worth the risk of using this, or indeed any product, that incorporates even slightly suspect ingredients. When you rub sun creams containing not only Titanium Dioxide (the protective element) into your kids skins then it inevitably comes along with a plethora of other potentially harmful chemicals. So all in all is it WORTH it? If you think it is then carry on doing it! We happen to think it is not...and if this does not sway you...

(2) The writer of the email makes this valid point:
"the workers that are around the dust and inhale the dust are the ones that can get cancer from the dust. (cancer of the) LUNG.. from breathing (it in)"
So we are bound to it an acceptable thing to keep supporting the demand for products that necessitate the workers who are at some point involved in processing this ingredient to face this risk however small? Is this ethical? Is it morally acceptable? Again, if you think it is then that is your prerogative!

At the end of the day, we just feel that using, without full knowledge or information, products that contain possibly harmful synthetic chemicals when there are safer alternatives is simply unacceptable (whether the potential harm is greater in the use, or in the production of said products, it matters not).

It is undoubtedly the case that we now face many toxic assaults from an array of chemicals every day. Many known-to-be-toxic synthetic chemicals are used in everything from furniture manufacture, to fabric making, to air-fresheners, to paints and varnishes, to liquid soaps, body creams, lipstick, sun lotions (of course) and so on, and so forth...

No-one knows just what effect the compound effect of these numerous assaults truly is. But it is evident that respiratory problems such as asthma, allergies, eczema, could all be traced back to chemical exposure. With little or no progress being made against cancers and diseases such as MS, CFS, ME and so on proliferating (all of which are thought in many cases to relate to possible toxic exposures)...its seems reasonable to suggest that reducing your own, and your families exposure to unnecessary toxic chemical contamination is a sensible thing to choose to do, particularly when safer products are available.

I don't know about you, but besides feeling uneasy about continuing to 'demand' products that contain chemicals that may pose a health hazard to the folks who are involved in making them (and rest assured they will not be the ones making the MONEY from those products!!)...I also prefer NOT to rub a paste of noxious chemicals around my gums even if those chemical have only SO FAR been shown to cause cancer in the lungs!!!

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