Titanium dioxide, also known as TiO2, is an odourless fine white powder. It is tasteless, insoluble in water and it is a naturally occurring mineral in the environment. Titanium dioxide is found in four different crystalline forms; anatase, rutile, akaogiite and brookite, with anatase and rutile being the most common and commercial.
Titanium dioxide is a naturally bright, white and opaque substance that is mostly known for its use as a pigment in a range of products (it is the brightest and whitest of all known pigments). Topically, titanium dioxide poses very low exposure risks, making it a common ingredient in many personal care products, including in sunscreens (it is UV resistant), cosmetics and lotions to name a few. It is also used in the production of; paints/glazes, plastics, pharmaceuticals, food and paper.
The routes of exposure for titanium dioxide include; inhalation, ingestion and skin and eye contact.
Inhalation of titanium dioxide dust may be harmful, producing irritation and inflammation of the respiratory system. Those with already compromised respiratory function (conditions such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis), may suffer further disability upon inhalation. People with prior damage to their kidneys, circulatory or nervous systems should be screened prior to handling to reduce the risk of further damage caused by the chemical. When titanium dioxide is inhaled, it is considered to be possibly carcinogenic.
Titanium dioxide is not thought to produce adverse health effects following ingestion, however it is recommended that good hygiene practices are followed to keep exposure to a minimum.
Skin contact with titanium dioxide produces mild skin irritation and inflammation, possibly characterised by redness and swelling which may progress to blistering, scaling and thickening of the skin. Open cuts and wounds should not be exposed to the chemical as entry into the bloodstream may produce other harmful effects.
Direct eye contact with titanium dioxide may produce ocular lesions, inflammation, temporary vision impairment or other types of eye damage.
If inhaled, remove the patient from the contaminated area to the nearest fresh air source and monitor their breathing. Lay them down and keep them warm and rested. If the patient is not breathing and you are qualified to do so, perform CPR. Seek medical attention without delay.
If swallowed, immediately give the patient a glass of water. First aid is generally not required, but if in doubt, seek medical attention.
If skin exposure occurs, immediately remove all contaminated clothing, footwear and accessories and cleanse the affected area with plenty of soap and water. Seek medical attention in the event of irritation.
If the chemical is exposed to the eyes, flush the eyes out immediately with fresh running water, remembering to wash under the eyelids. Removal of contact lenses should only be done by a skilled individual. Seek medical attention without delay.
Emergency eyewash fountains should be accessible in the immediate area of the potential exposure to the chemical and adequate ventilation should be available (install local exhaust if necessary).
The PPE recommended when handling titanium dioxide includes; safety glasses with side shields, chemical goggles, dust respirators, gloves (polychloroprene, nitrile rubber, butyl rubber, fluorocaoutchouc, polyvinyl chloride variants), overalls, PVC aprons and boots.
Refer to your SDS for more comprehensive information on the safe handling of titanium dioxide. Find out more about a free trial of our SDS management system here.