Is Titanium Dioxide really harmful to your health?

So you’ve heard titanium dioxide is a scary ingredient and maybe to you it is based on some research, so let’s shed more light on this white substance.

Let’s start by talking about the definition of titanium dioxide. It’s a white, fine powder that is a pigment often used in food, sunscreen and cosmetics. When used in food or cosmetics it provides a whitish colour, in sunscreen it protects against UV rays. To get more technical let’s look at the Wikipedia's definition Titanium dioxide, also known as titanium(IV) oxide or titania, is the naturally occurring oxide of titanium, chemical formula TiO2. When used as a pigment, it is called titanium white,Pigment White 6 (PW6), or CI 77891. Generally it is sourced from ilmenite, rutile and anatase. It has a wide range of applications, from paint to sunscreen to food colouring. When used as a food colouring, it has E number E171.

Even though titanium dioxide has become controversial in recent years, its been around for a long time  and is one of the top 50 chemicals made.  If you look at some research it’s linked to cancer but when you read further it states that it has low skin penetration and it’s a concern if you inhale it.  It is naturally occurring but is chemically manufactured to remove impurities leaving behind a pure white pigment. It has no odour (which is probably why it’s used in so many products), and is absorbent. According to the FDA it is listed as a safe pigment with no adverse affects in cosmetics when it’s pure.  What you should be concerned about is ultrafine or nano particles. 

Did you know that Dunkin’ Donuts removed titanium dioxide from it’s donuts because of pressure from the advocacy group As You Sow.  The reason is due to nano particles which is the controversial subject out there.  Researchers know that the smaller the particles are, the more toxic they become. The type used in food has a particle size of about 200 nanometers in diameter which is one five hundredth the width of a human hair. If you were to inhale large quantities of this it would begin to affect you.

A customer once asked me why soaps contain titanium dioxide? The simple answer is that they are used for cosmetic (colouring) purposes. So unless you are taking large amounts of nano titanium dioxide and dumping it in your hand and sniffing it, its harmless.   We use a non nano form of titanium dioxide in our organic soaps and nail polish.  To cater to those who prefer soap without titanium dioxide we offer a vast range of soaps without it.  Here is one example.

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