Dr. Robert Cook - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Robert Cook

Is Titanium Dioxide Bad For You?

Also Known As: titania



Short answer

Considering a human’s average daily exposure to the chemical, it is not bad for you. The extensive scientific research conducted on titanium dioxide shows that it is relatively benign. This considers the method by which it enters the body and the quantities that are amassed in the body on time-weighted averages. Similar to any other substance, titanium dioxide becomes increasingly dangerous the more you consume. Most people do not consume enough high purity titanium dioxide to cause either acute or chronic toxicity.



Long answer

Titanium dioxide is naturally occurring.  It is the ninth most abundant hard metal found inside the earth.  Titanium dioxide is found in Mother Nature in three different forms: rutile, ilmenite, and the most common form, anatase.  Once the impurities have been removed, titanium dioxide appears as a white powder.  Titanium dioxide is used in for a host of applications, including the paint on your house, sunscreen, and powdered doughnuts.  In paints, it is used to provide the white base pigment from which all light colored tones are derived.  Titanium dioxide is also considered to be inert, meaning that it does not react in any way with other chemicals.

There are numerous uses for titanium dioxide as it concerns the human body.  We currently use or have in the past used titanium dioxide in antiperspirants, cosmetic products, sunscreen, and toothpaste.  The applications for topical use are essentially harmless, as the absorption rate in the skin for titanium dioxide is, extremely low.  Any intrusion into the body for titanium dioxide that occurs is insignificant and does not result in any type of cellular toxicity.  Chronic exposure to titanium dioxide may cause very mild skin irritation.

Titanium dioxide has several uses as it concerns food; thereby it is liberally inserted into our diets.  Due to its white pigment, it can find its way into powdered doughnuts, whipped frosting and even certain candy.  Additionally, it is added to chocolate to create a smooth texture.  The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regards the consumption process of titanium dioxide into the body as safe.  In some cases, children are exposed to higher levels of titanium dioxide, due to diets that are richer with sweets.  However, the high levels of sugar in diets that dominated by sweets, are far more dangerous than titanium dioxide.  In these cases, one is more at risk for diabetes or inflammation from the excessive sugar intake, rather than titanium dioxide health related problems. 

Though far less likely, inhalation is another method by which titanium dioxide enters the body.  Inhalation is only probable as a means of intrusion into the body, in the industrial process of paint.  This manner of entrance into the body presents the highest possibility of exposure.  However, in the case of inhalation, one would still have to take in large amounts of titanium dioxide to experience any symptoms, which may include eye, nose and throat irritation.  This would be more likely in cases of “paint sniffing” as a drug.  Titanium dioxide is known to have caused cancer in lab rats, but titanium dioxide is not associated with cancer in humans.

Possible short-term side effects

  • moderate eye irritant
  • slight nose, throat and lung irritant
  • may cause slight breathing problems
  • mild skin irritability

Possible long-term side effects

  • possible pulmonary fibrosis

Big is titanium dioxide bad for you.

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Written by DeeAnne Oldham | 02-17-2016

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
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