Titanium Dioxide: A Carcinogen



Photo Credit: Cosmetic Info
This article is directed to individuals who are concerned about toxins in cosmetics, and question the use of Titanium Dioxide in Pure Anada formulations.  Pure Anada's purpose is to offer a safe and healthy alternative to traditional cosmetics.  In an industry that is not thoroughly regulated, it's the responsibility of each manufacturer to research and carefully select the list of ingredients to be used in their products.  Then, it is up to the consumer to set their own personal standard for which ingredients they feel comfortable applying to their skin.  I hope the following information helps to alleviate any concerns and answers any questions you may have about Titanium Dioxide in our products. 

Titanium dioxide has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen ''possibly carcinogen to humans''. 

This has instilled fear into the minds of consumers who wish to use clean, safe ingredients in their cosmetics.  We have received several inquiries into the safety of TD in our formulations.  It is my goal to study the data diligently before eliminating ingredients without concrete evidence of toxicity.   

A summary of the data/research from the IARC can be found here on the Canadian Centre for Occupational Safety website.  I highly recommend that consumers read this article, along with my explanation below, before they fall prey to unnecessary fear mongering.  

The actual monograph from the IARC can be found at this LINK.  

The three main routes of exposure:  

1) Inhalation 
The primary “possible carcinogen” warning is for people involved in the manufacturing  of Titanium Dioxide where inhalation would be a concern.   This would include cosmetic companies (such as ourselves) who work with the raw ingredient.  It is important for us to blend our powders in a ventilated area, and wear proper masks to filter the fine dust that is created in our process.  Keep in mind that the dust generated during manufacturing, is far greater than the airborne particles that occur when applying powder makeup for personal use.  

Here is a quote from the IARC monograph (section 5:4): 
Respiratory effects that have been observed among groups of titanium dioxide-exposed workers include a decline in lung function, pleural disease with plaques and pleural thickening, and mild fibrotic changes.  However the workers in these studies were also exposed to asbestos and/or silica.   (emphasis mine) 

I believe that safe, and good manufacturing techniques are important when working with ANY fine powders; titanium dioxide included.   

2) Ingestion 
Specific grades of Titanium Dioxide (including the variety used in our products) are approved for use in food.  Ingestion would be a concern for our clients if they use lipstick or gloss on a regular basis.   

A quote from the IARC monograph (section 5:4) 
A single clinical study of oral ingestion of fine titanium dioxide showed particle size-dependent absorption by the gastrointestinal tract and large interindividual variations in blood levels of titanium dioxde. 

The quote above, indicates that the particle size of the Titanium Dioxide to be dependent on the absorption variations.   
I have a concern regarding nano-sized particles. Nano-sized particles are so small that they can possibly travel through the skin and enter into the blood stream. This type would be used in a sunscreen cream or something similar. There has been no research done to determine the effects of these tiny particles in our body.  There is some speculation as to what is classified as a “nano-sized particle”.  My understanding is that the particles are less than 0.1 microns.  

The particle size of the TD used in Pure Anada products is 3-4 microns. We do not want the particle to be any smaller, because we would loose the coverage that we can achieve at this larger size. As the particles get smaller, the coverage is less, meaning it is more translucent. That is why the nano-sized particles are used in cream-based sunscreens. People typically want their sunscreen lotions to be translucent so they don't end up with white streaks!

I also willingly avoid them since there are no long-term studies on what happens if these nano-particles are absorbed into our blood stream.  The study mentioned (above), indicates that absorption is dependent on the particle size.   

3) Dermal Contact 
This exposure is most applicable to cosmetic use.  Again, I believe the particle size would have a significant bearing on the absorption of Titanium Dioxide.  

From the IARC Monograph  
Studies on the application of sunscreens containing ultrafine Titanium Dioxide to the healthy skin of human volunteers revealed that titanium dioxide particles only penetrate into the outermost layers of the stratum corneum, suggesting that healthy skin is an effective barrier to titanium dioxide.  No studies on the penetration of titanium dioxide in compromised skin were available. 

So the IARC (who classified Titanium Dioxide as a possible human carcinogen) declares through evidential studies, that even ultrafine titanium dioxide does not penetrate into the blood stream.  Thus, stating that dermal application isn’t a factor in the carcinogenic classification.  This concludes that there is no grounds to fear titanium dioxide in cosmetic preparations at all! 

What purpose does Titanium Dioxide have in Pure Anada formulations? 
Since it’s a controversial ingredient (due to lack of  consumer education), can't we simply eliminate it from the formula?  Unfortunately, it's not that easy if you are looking to use makeup for the purpose of "coverage". Titanium Dioxide provides the coverage that women are looking for.  Without it, the formulation (weather it be a powder or a liquid) is very sheer.   
Another benefit is the natural sun protection that Titanium Dioxide offers.  When included in formulations, it blocks the sun’s rays better than any synthetic chemical.   
It is also an ingredient that causes little, if no irritation, and/or allergic reactions when applied topically. 

Why will we continue to use Titanium Dioxide? 
Our goal and purpose as a cosmetic brand is to offer safe, healthy products for consumers, our families and ourselves.  I want to base my conclusions on scientific research.   There are more studies done on Titanium Dioxide than many other cosmetic ingredients.  In fact, most aren’t tested at all!  That is what we should be afraid of.  A rating of “0” on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database, could indicate that the ingredient hasn’t been studied at all (data gaps).  This is the most dangerous variety.  The Skin Deep Database rates Titanium Dioxide as a 1-3.  This is absolutely reasonable, considering that it has been thoroughly studied ingredient.   

Often times, ingredients are vilified by companies who are seeking to elevate their products above other brands.  This is not based on sound, scientific research and doesn’t hold long-term.  

Conclusion 
Each individual must make a choice for themselves what they want to put in and on their bodies.  If, after reading this information you are still convinced to avoid Titanium Dioxide, we respect your decision completely.   

We have received emails from concerned consumers, regarding almost every single one of our ingredients.  Even though, we feel we have a very strict ingredient standard, AND have an honest ingredient disclosure policy , we acknowledge that we won’t be able to please everyone. 

Thank you for taking the time to read!