Renier Snyman, technical manager at Sun Ace

Changes promulgated by ECHA regarding titanium dioxide in Europe important, says Sun Ace

ECHA, the European Chemical Association, has recently promulgated regulations that TiO2 addition levels in powder mixtures above 1% carry specified warning labels, which regulation has since been included in the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) protocols in Europe. The European Commission classified TiO2 as a suspected carcinogen (cat 2.) by inhalation, limited to certain powder forms.

Sun Ace South Africa with their global presence stays close to changes in legislation and has been monitoring the changes in the regulations adopted in Europe for addition levels of titanium dioxide. This is because the inhalation of powder dust from titanium dioxide (TiO2) during manufacturing processes is deemed to be carcinogenic. The TDMA (Titanium Dioxide Manufacturers Association) is lobbying for ECHA to overturn the legislation.

Renier Snyman, technical manager at Sun Ace in Jet Park in Johannesburg, addressed a SAPPMA (Southern African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers Association) webinar on the topic in May during which he noted that manufacturers outside of Europe need to comply with these regulations if exporting into Europe, and goods need to be clearly labelled that they are compliant. Failure to comply could result in shipments being rejected at entry ports in Europe. Rejection of container loads of goods can be perilous for manufacturers, so Sun Ace’s initiative to inform the market of the recent change is valuable for SA manufacturers.

TiO2 is a widely used whitening colouring agent and UV protector for plastic products, toothpaste, paints, cosmetics and foods. It occurs naturally in beach sand or is made from mineral ilmenite. Uses of TiO2 are many and varied: the substance has a high refractive index and can reflect and scatter light as well as absorb ultraviolet rays, but it is in PVC extruded and moulded goods where its use is particularly prevalent. The main activity of TiO2 is to reflect harmful UV rays away from moulded plastic items such as PVC pipes, gutters or other goods which are exposed to sunlight. Essentially what happens is that UV light degrades the surface layer of the item, causing a loss of brightness and chalking, which is evident as a powdering deposit. Use of coated TiO2 slows, or reduces, this process.

Surfaces of aged PVC products often appear dull and brittle, detracting from consumer appeal. By contrast, the use of properly formulated PVC material with the required addition levels of good quality coated TiO2 tend to perform better and retain their surface gloss for longer. Use of TiO2 is thus important.

According to Renier, South Africa does not need to be worried at this stage, unless exporting to Europe.

“These changes are only for Europe at this stage, but now is a good time to discuss the regulations and formulate a stance.

“SAVA (vinyls association) is the right vehicle to host these discussions, it is already involved in similar activities for other PVC products,” added Renier.

  • For more information, visit the TDMA website at
  • And the ECHA Guide on the classification and labelling of titanioum dioxide at