Four types of products that may contain this suspected carcinogen

This week META looks at four types of products you should look out for as lobbyists push to block EU regulation of cancer-linked titanium dioxide.

Titanium dioxide is a chemical used in a wide range of products including sunscreen, food, cosmetics and paints.

In recent years, a number of scientific bodies found that it can potentially cause cancer if inhaled. These include the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

For this reason the ECHA had proposed warning labels for certain products containing titanium dioxide in all forms, including liquid and powder form.

But reports of unprecedented lobbying from several lobby groups linked to the chemical have cast a shadow on any proposal to regulate the lucrative but hazardous substance.

They had the power to hire good lawyers. We received several letters and it was like they were giving us orders,” an anonymous EU diplomat told the Guardian this month.

As we wait to see how the negotiations unfold, META looks at four common sprayable products containing titanium dioxide. Sprays can be easily inhaled, so check the ingredients to make sure your product is titanium dioxide-free.


1. Spray sunscreen

Spray sunscreens containing titanium dioxide are widespread due to the substance’s ability to block the absorption of the sun’s ultraviolet light. But alternatives also exist.

2. Hair colour sprays

Titanium dioxide adds whiteness and brightness to products and can also help them prevent decolourisation. For this reason, it’s widely used in hair colour sprays.


3. Makeup sprays

They are quite popular too.

4. Spray paints

While some street artists wear masks to protect them from inhaling the content of their paints, many don’t.