Titanium dioxide doesn’t sound like something you’d find in a sugary treat, yet it’s in there. Titanium dioxide is a common additive in many consumer products. Although most people know about titanium dioxide in cosmetics and sunscreen, the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) points out that titanium dioxide actually accounts for about 70% of the total production volume of pigments worldwide. It’s used to brighten up and add opacity to paints, cosmetics, plastics, papers, inks, toothpastes and even food. It’s also used in almost every sunblock on the planet, even the ones on Environmental Working Groups’ safe sunscreen list. Titanium dioxide is useful in that it can help protect your skin from ultraviolet light, however in higher amounts it can be a hazard and new research shows that young children may be at the most risk for exposure.
A new study; the first broadly based study about amounts of the nanomaterial with regard to its potential health and environmental effects, published in ACS’ journal, Environmental Science & Technology shows that children consume more titanium dioxide than adults because they eat higher quantities of sweets such as candies, marshmallows and icing. Sweets, in turn are one of the food products with the highest levels of nanoparticles of titanium dioxide levels. Because of this, the researchers on the study suggest that regulators would be wise to shift their focus from titanium dioxide used in paints and industrial processes to food-grade particles. Not only are food particles more likely to be present in the environment but they also pose a potential risk to humans. Titanium dioxide has been linked to organ system toxicity, occupational hazards and most recently it’s been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a possible carcinogen to humans. Overall, the researchers found that candies and chewing gums contained more titanium by weight than did personal care products, toothpastes, shampoos, deodorants, shaving creams and sunscreen. Guess it’s time to crack down on junk food and work on some healthy snacks and eating habits.
Lead image by Flickr User rumpleteaser