What is Titanium Dioxide?
people are familiar with titanium dioxide as an active ingredient in sunscreen.
Titanium dioxide works as a UV filtering ingredient in sunscreen – it helps
protect a person’s skin by blocking absorption of the sun’s ultraviolet light
that can cause sunburn and is also linked to skin cancer.
Uses & Benefits
titanium dioxide is a fine, white powder that provides a bright, white pigment.
Titanium dioxide has been used for a century in a range of industrial and
consumer products, including paints, coatings, adhesives, paper, plastics and
rubber, printing inks, coated fabrics and textiles, as well as ceramics, floor
coverings, roofing materials, cosmetics, toothpaste, soap, water treatment
agents, pharmaceuticals, food colorants, automotive products, sunscreen and
Titaniumdioxide is produced in two main forms. The primary form, comprising over 98
percent of total production, is pigment grade titanium dioxide. The pigmentary
form makes use of titanium dioxide’s excellent light-scattering properties in
applications that require white opacity and brightness. The other form in which
titanium dioxide is produced is as an ultrafine (nanomaterial) product. This
form is selected when different properties, such as transparency and maximum
ultraviolet light absorption, are required, such as in cosmetic sunscreens.
Pigment-grade Titanium Dioxide
titanium dioxide is used in a range of applications that require high opacity
and brightness. In fact, most surfaces and items that are white and pastel, and
even dark shades of color, contain titanium dioxide. Pigment-grate titanium
dioxide is used in a range of applications, including:
- Paints and Coatings: Titanium dioxide
provides opacity and durability, while helping to ensure the longevity of
the paint and protection of the painted surface.
- Plastics, Adhesives
and Rubber: Titanium dioxide can help minimize the brittleness, fading and cracking that can
occur in plastics and other materials as a result of light
- Cosmetics: Pigment-grade
titanium dioxide is use in some cosmetics to aid in hiding blemishes and
brightening the skin. Titanium dioxide allows for the use of thinner
coatings of make-up material for the same desired effect.
- Paper: Titanium dioxide
is used to coat paper, making it whiter, brighter and more opaque.
- Food Contact Materials
and Ingredients: The
opacity to visible and ultraviolet light offered by titanium dioxide
protects food, beverages, supplements and pharmaceuticals from premature
degradation, enhancing the longevity of the product. Specific classes of
high purity pigment-grade titanium dioxide are also used in drug tablets,
capsule coatings and as a decorative aid in some foods.
Ultrafine-grade, or Nanoscale Titanium Dioxide
of titanium dioxide are most commonly used in the following specialty
Sunscreen: Nanoscale titanium dioxide becomes
transparent to visible light while serving as an efficient UV light absorber.
Because the particle size is so small, nano-titanium dioxide does not reflect
visible light, but does absorb UV light, enabling a transparent barrier that
protects the skin from the sun’s harmful rays. According to the Skin Cancer
Foundation, using sunscreens containing titanium dioxide can help prevent the
occurrence of skin cancer.
Catalysts: Nanoscale titanium dioxide is used as
a support material for catalyst applications. Major uses include in the
automotive industry to remove harmful exhaust gas emissions and in power
stations to remove nitrous oxides.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has assessed the safety of titanium
dioxide pigment as a color additive in food, drug and cosmetic applications.
FDA had issued guidance clarifying the safe use of titanium dioxide pigment as
a food colorant, and has stated that titanium dioxide may be safely used in
cosmetics, including cosmetics intended for use around the eye. FDA also
regulates the safety and effectiveness of sunscreens and their ingredients,
including nanoscale titanium dioxide.
at titanium dioxide manufacturing plants and downstream value-chain
manufacturing plants where titanium dioxide is used can be exposed to titanium
dioxide dust. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) has established a Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for
titanium dioxide total dust and requires employers to control workplace
exposure below that PEL.
exposure to titanium dioxide dust is presumed to be extremely low, because
titanium dioxide is typically fully incorporated into the end product in which
it is used.
Why is titanium dioxide used in
dioxide is often used to impart whiteness to food products, cosmetics and
personal care items, like toothpaste. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) has assessed the safety of titanium dioxide as a color additive and has
issued regulations approving the ingredient for these purposes.
What are the differences between
pigment-grade titanium dioxide and titanium dioxide nanomaterials?
titanium dioxide is manufactured at a specific particle size distribution to
optimize the scattering of visible light and enhance surface opacity. Titanium
dioxide is produced primarily in the pigmentary form (over 98 percent of total
production), which makes use of its excellent light-scattering properties for a
range of applications that require opacity and brightness.
dioxide nanomaterials are purposefully made in a much smaller particle size
distribution than pigmentary particles and are transparent and more effective
as UV absorbers or photocatalysts. The transparency and UV absorbance allow for
effective use as a protective ingredient for sunscreens.
What is titanium dioxide used in
dioxide is included in FDA’s list of acceptable active ingredients in sunscreen
products. According to FDA, active ingredients in sunscreen such as
titanium dioxide protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. More
questions about sunscreen safety? Use our safety resource on chemical
ingredients used in sunscreen.
Selected titanium dioxide suppliers from OKCHEM