Please be aware that this is a machine translation from French to English. AVICENN is not responsible for incorrect or inaccurate translations but welcomes suggestions for reformulation.

WatchNanos - Towards the suspension of titanium dioxide in cosmetics and medicines?

Towards the suspension of titanium dioxide in cosmetics and medicines?

more files

After food, the suspension of titanium dioxide in cosmetics (excluding sunscreens) and medicines?

By AVICENN Team – Last added December 2022

The banning of (nano)particles of titanium dioxide in mass consumption products was requested for around ten years by various organizations (associations, journalists, health agencies, etc.). These demands have accelerated lately with the ban on titanium dioxide in foodstuffs (E171) in 2020.
AVICENN compiles below the requests in favor of extending this ban to cosmetics likely to be ingested and/or inhaled (toothpaste, make-up, lip balms, etc.) and to medicines.

Countdown :

In 2022,

  • December 18, 2022: Following the magazine of our report Searching for nanos in everyday products reporting the presence of titanium dioxide nanoparticles in the tested drug, AVICENN received this email from Alain J, reproduced with his permission:

“Treated for heart problems, I take atenolol (Tenormine), amlodipine, and atorvastatin for cholesterol: these 3 drugs contain E171 as an excipient. Still for the heart, I take Kardegic 75 which leads to weak blood vessels, hence hemorrhoids which I treat with Daflon, also containing E171.

Unfortunately suffering from prostatitis, I take either Permixon or Tadenan, 2 tablets a day, also containing E171…

Out of sleep, I take Zopiclone, containing the same excipient, and if I want to make it lighter by taking Euphytose, I find myself facing the same problem…(…)

In short, I find that the cumulative effect is not taken seriously either by the laboratories or by the Ministry of Health, while the pastry chefs have excluded this product from their preparations. (…) Here, in case my voice can be heard a little, and you can bring it up.”

  • 14 December 2022: ANSES published its opinion on the risk assessment of the nanometric fraction of the food additive E171 which points to the lack of toxicological data available to carry out a complete assessment of the additive E171 and recommends limiting the uses and exposure of workers and consumers to nanomaterials, “by promoting the use of safe products, devoid of manufactured nanomaterials, and by limiting these uses to those ultimately considered to be duly justified and subject to a documented demonstration of the acceptability of the risk”.
  • 21 June 2022: The European Commission has required the Scientific Committee for Consumer Safety (SCCS) to reassess the safety of TiO2 in cosmetics, in view of its genotoxicity when exposed by inhalation and by the oral route. Among the types of cosmetics mentioned: lip balms, lipsticks, toothpastes, powders, hair sprays. The CSSC has nine months to issue its opinion, which should therefore be finalized in March 2023.
  • January 14, 2022: the European regulation 2022/63 prohibiting the food additive titanium dioxide (E171) opens up the possibility, in its Article 3, of a ban on E171 in medicines – a decision which could be taken in 2025. By April 2024, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) must have carried out an updated assessment to that the European Commission can reconsider the need to maintain titanium dioxide (E171) on the list of colorings used in medicinal products, taking into account the progress made in the meantime to develop alternatives. "If the replacement of titanium dioxide (E171) in medicinal products has not taken place or has not started within the aforementioned period, only verifiable objective reasons related to the impossibility of replacing it should be taken into consideration"

In 2021,

  • December 24, 2021: relaying the Kali survey (see below), France 3 interviews Pauline Cervan from Future Generations which denounces the fact that titanium dioxide has no role in the effectiveness of drugs, but presents risks of carcinogenicity and genotoxicity
  • December 22, 2021: the kali-magazine makes its "one" on the 800 drugs containing titanium dioxide and calls for the withdrawal of TiO2 medication
  • October 28, 2021: Que Choisir denounces, with AVICENN, the fact that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is the voice of laboratories and regrets that a deadline for substitution, provided for by a regulatory text, has not been established by the European Commission
  • October 21, 2021: Karine Jacquemart of Foodwatch claims that titanium dioxide is also prohibited in medicines and toothpaste.
  • October 2021: we learn following the approval by the Member States of theban on E171 in food throughout the European Union, medicines would not be affected for several years
  • May 6, 2021: European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, announcement that the European Commission will propose a European ban on E171; this announcement was made just hours after the publication of thereview from the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) concluding that this additive can no longer be considered "safe", due to potential genotoxic effects (DNA damage). This is a very clear change in the position of the EFSA, which until now had made every effort to say that E171 was "safe" - and this, despite the numerous scientific publications which accumulate for several years and show adverse effects. This reversal confirms the relevance of the alerts launched - for more than ten years now - by scientists and associations and taken seriously by the French authorities, who have suspended E171 since 2020.
  • March 4, 2021: the association Agir pour l'Environnement announcement on facebook that 7 new brands have committed to removing titanium dioxide from their toothpastes; their website was recently updated

In 2020,

  • October 22, 2020: the association Agir pour l'Environnement launches a “Stop titanium” petition asking for the extension of the ban on titanium dioxide to medicines and toothpastes (more than 30 signatures collected):
  • October 16, 2020: What to Choose reiterates also its call for an extension of the ban on this additive to drugs and cosmetics likely to be ingested (toothpaste, lipstick, etc.):
  • October 7, 2020: a survey of French researchers shows that the exposure of pregnant women to titanium dioxide leads to an accumulation of TiO nanoparticles2 in the placenta and contamination of the fetus. It was conducted by scientists from INRAE, LNE, the Rouen Materials Physics Group, the Toulouse University Hospital, the University of Picardie Jules Verne and the National Veterinary School of Toulouse. It confirms strong presumptions, following publications in animals. As reminded by INRAE ​​press release, the use of titanium dioxide in foodstuffs has been suspended in France, but it is still used in toothpastes, UV screens, cosmetic creams and powders and pharmaceuticals. In a communicated published the same day, Acting for the Environment calls for the extension of the ban on E171 to drugs and toothpaste.

In 2019,

  • August 2019: Senator LR from the Alpes-Maritimes, Colette Giudicelli, had filed a written question (No. 11991) to the Minister for Solidarity and Health at the time, on the presence of nanoparticle titanium dioxide in toothpaste and certain medicines. At the end of September, AVICENN learns that the question, although forwarded to the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Recovery, has been "withdrawn due to death".
  • June 2019: the consumer association Que Choisir urges the European authorities to immediately ban titanium dioxide present in nearly 7000 cosmetic references likely to be ingested (toothpastes, mouthwashes, lipsticks and lip balms, etc.).
  • June 2019: Interviewed by Challenges1See Why Titanium Dioxide Was Banned From Plates, But Not Toothpaste, Challenges, June 7, 2019, Anne Dux, director of scientific affairs at Febea, the trade union for the cosmetics sector, reportedly replied that in toothpastes, there is no possible substitute for TiO2 as a white colorant because titanium dioxide would be the only do not interact with other elements. The obstacle to its removal according to her: "Studies show that in the minds of consumers, white is associated with cleanliness and that this encourages them to brush their teeth more". Yet brands have always done without it, others have already started to remove it from their toothpastes and some even make the absence of TiO2 in their toothpaste a marketing argument.2In October 2018, the Casino brand undertook to remove TiO nanoparticles2 de "all its products", including toothpaste, by the end of the year. In January 2019, AVICENN also spotted the brand's toothpaste Dentavie marketed by the Léa Nature Laboratory, guaranteed "free of superfluous and controversial ingredients", in particular without "titanium dioxide"..
  • March 2019: the association Act for the Environment (APE) asks the office of the Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, to extend the suspension of titanium dioxide to all products that can be totally or partially ingested: toothpaste and pharmaceuticals especially, related the presence of titanium dioxide (TiO2) in two thirds of the 408 toothpastes, none of which bears the mention [nano] yet mandatory on the packaging for any nanoscale ingredient present in cosmetics. The day after the meeting, Agir pour l'Environnement indicated in a press release that “the meeting was very disappointing”, because there has been no question, for the moment, of extending the scope of the decree to products other than food for various reasons. One of the reasons mentioned: the draft decree was designed for a food framework... However, this framework can be modified in the drafting of the decree. On the absence of [nano] labeling of titanium dioxide: the DGCCRF has not yet carried out surveys on toothpastes but indicates that it would have planned it for the coming months. For Agir pour l'Environnement, this status quo marks "once again" the reluctance of the Ministry of the Economy, unable to protect consumers, children and the sick from exposure to a dangerous and useless chemical substance in food, toothpaste and medicine. Without waiting for an investigation by the DGCCRF and the dissuasive sanctions it calls for, Agir pour l'Environnement has put the site online which makes it possible to quickly identify toothpastes with and without titanium dioxide. In the investigation report d'Agir pour l'Environnement published at the time, the association indicates that it has noted the presence of TiO2 in two thirds of the 408 toothpastes whose composition it studied (including 25 organic toothpastes) and in half of the 60 toothpastes for children. It also reveals that none of the 271 toothpastes concerned bear the mention [nano], which is nevertheless mandatory on the packaging for any ingredient of nanometric dimension present in cosmetics. Acting for the environment indicates that it has also launched a participatory survey on the presence of titanium dioxide in medicines.

In 2018,

  • October 2018: 60 million consumers denounce the almost systematic use of TiO2 for applications where the anti-UV function is not strictly necessary is controversial, in particular in anti-wrinkle creams: “The filters incorporated in these anti-wrinkles are controversial. In particular (…) titanium dioxide in nano form. In a purely aesthetic care cream such as an anti-wrinkle, the presence of UV filters with a proven risk, or even only suspected of toxicity, is not acceptable”3See " Anti-wrinkle creams: unwelcome UV filters », 60 Million consumers, October 25, 2018.
  • June 2018: online petition “Stop the carcinogenic titanium dioxide in our medicines! » (for the attention of the Minister of Health, on the platform which is no longer online) > at the beginning of November 2019 she had collected more than 20 signatures
  • February 2018: Que Choisir highlights in TiO's Aquafresh toothpaste2 of which 40% of the particles have a dimension less than 100 nm.

In 2017,

  • October 2017: nano comics co-financed by Agir pour l'Environnement, Future Generations, France Nature Environnement and the Committee for Sustainable Development in Health (C2DS)
  • June 2017: "Temporarily ban nanomaterials whose harmlessness is questionable in food, medicines and toothpastes in France" is one of the eleven proposals compiled by AVICENN, in partnership with its associate members and other actors from civil society and risk assessment and management bodies within the framework of the labeling/restriction of nanomaterials working group led by the Ministry of the Environment

In 2009,

A remark, a question? This sheet produced by AVICENN is intended to be supplemented and updated. Please feel free to contribute.

The next nano appointments

“Nano and Health” dialogue committee (ANSES, Maisons-Alfort)
Dialogue Committee
  • 14th meeting of the “nano and health” dialogue committee
  • Organizer: ANSES
  • Website :
Nanomaterials, how to identify them more efficiently? (LNE, Paris)
  • Technical Day
  • Organizer: National Metrology and Testing Laboratory (LNE)
  • On the agenda: identification of nanomaterials, recent technological innovations in terms of particle size characterization, areas for progress to be considered 
  • Upcoming program
  • Website :…
NanoSafe conference 2023 (CEA, Grenoble)
  • 8th International Conference on Health Issues for a Responsible Approach to Nanomaterials
  • June 5-9, 2023
  • Organizer: Commissariat for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies (CEA)
  • Website :…  

Sheet initially created in March 2019

Notes & references

Our watch, our information and our actions need you to last!