Titanium dioxide, also known as titanium(IV) oxide or titania, is the naturally occurring oxide of titanium, chemical formula TiO2. When used as a pigment, it is called titanium white, Pigment White 6, or CI 77891. It is noteworthy for its wide range of applications, from paint to sunscreen to food colouring when it is given the E number E171.
|TiO2(B)||monoclinic||Hydrolysis of K2Ti4O9 followed by heating|
|TiO2(H), hollandite form||tetragonal||Oxidation of the related potassium titanate bronze, K0.25TiO2|
|TiO2(R), ramsdellite form||orthorhombic||Oxidation of the related lithium titanate bronze Li0.5TiO2|
|baddeleyite form, (7 coordinate Ti)||monoclinic|
|TiO2 -OII, cotunnite, PbCl2||orthorhombic|
Another widely used process utilizes ilmenite as the titanium dioxide source, which is digested in sulfuric acid. The by-product iron(II) sulfate is crystallized and filtered-off to yield only the titanium salt in the digestion solution, which is processed further to give pure titanium dioxide. Another method for upgrading ilmenite is called the Becher Process.
This pigment is used extensively in plastics and other applications for its UV resistant properties where it acts as a UV absorber, efficiently transforming destructive UV light energy into heat.
In ceramic glazes titanium dioxide acts as an opacifier and seeds crystal formation. In almost every sunscreen with a physical blocker, titanium dioxide is found because of its high refractive index, its strong UV light absorbing capabilities and its resistance to discolouration under ultraviolet light. This advantage enhances its stability and ability to protect the skin from ultraviolet light. Sunscreens designed for infants or people with sensitive skin are often based on titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, as these mineral UV blockers are less likely to cause skin irritation than chemical UV absorber ingredients, such as avobenzone.
Titanium oxide is also used as a semiconductor.
The photocatylic properties of titanium dioxide were discovered by Akira Fujishima in 1967. The process on the surface of the titanium dioxide was called the Honda-Fujishima effect.
Titanium dioxide has potential for use in energy production: as a photocatalyst, it can
As TiO2 is exposed to UV light, it becomes increasingly hydrophilic; thus, it can be used for anti-fogging coatings or self-cleaning windows. TiO2 incorporated into outdoor building materials, such as paving stones in noxer blocks or paints, can substantially reduce concentrations of airborne pollutants such as volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides.
Titanium dioxide in solution or suspension can be used to cleave protein that contains the amino acid proline at the site where proline is present. This breakthrough in cost-effective protein splitting took place at Arizona State University in 2006.
Titanium dioxide on silica is being developed as a form of odor control in cat litter. The purchased photocatalyst is vastly cheaper than the purchased silica beads, per usage, and prolongs their effective odor-eliminating life substantially.
In 1995 the Research Institute of Toto Ltd. discovered the superhydrophilicity phenomenon for glass coated with titanium dioxide and exposed to sun light. Professor Fujishima and his group discovered that This resulted in the development of self-cleaning glass.
Titanium dioxide white paint was used to paint the Saturn V rocket, which is so far the only rocket that has sent astronauts to the moon. In 2002, a spectral analysis of J002E3, a celestial object, showed that it had titanium dioxide on it, giving evidence it may be a Saturn V S-IVB.
Titanium dioxide dust, when inhaled, has recently been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen possibly carcinogenic to humans. Titanium dioxide accounts for 70% of the total production volume of pigments worldwide. It is widely used to provide whiteness and opacity to products such as paints, plastics, papers, inks, foods, and toothpastes. It is also used in cosmetic and skin care products, and it is present in almost every sunblock, where it helps protect the skin from ultraviolet light.
With such widespread use of titanium dioxide, it is important to understand that the IARC conclusions are based on very specific evidence. This evidence showed that high concentrations of pigment-grade (powdered) and ultrafine titanium dioxide dust caused respiratory tract cancer in rats exposed by inhalation and intratracheal instillation*. The series of biological events or steps that produce the rat lung cancers (e.g. particle deposition, impaired lung clearance, cell injury, fibrosis, mutations and ultimately cancer) have also been seen in people working in dusty environments. Therefore, the observations of cancer in animals were considered, by IARC, as relevant to people doing jobs with exposures to titanium dioxide dust. For example, titanium dioxide production workers may be exposed to high dust concentrations during packing, milling, site cleaning and maintenance, if there are insufficient dust control measures in place. However, it should be noted that the human studies conducted so far do not suggest an association between occupational exposure to titanium dioxide and an increased risk for cancer.
The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is Canada's hazard communication standard. The WHMIS Controlled Products Regulations require that chemicals, listed in Group 1 or Group 2 in the IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of the Carcinogenic Risk of Chemicals to Humans, be classified under WHMIS Class D2A (carcinogenic). The classification decision on titanium dioxide has been published on the IARC website and in a summary article published in The Lancet.
Representatives from Health Canada (National Office of WHMIS) recently consulted with the Quebec CSST and CCOHS (the two main agencies providing WHMIS classifications to the public) regarding the implications of the IARC decision to the WHMIS classification of titanium dioxide. It was agreed that titanium dioxide does now meet the criteria for WHMIS D2A (carcinogen) based on the information released by IARC to date, and that it is not necessary to wait for release of the full monograph.
Manufacturers and suppliers of titanium dioxide are advised to review and update their material safety data sheets and product labels based on this new information as soon as possible. Employers should review their occupational hygiene programs to ensure that exposure to titanium dioxide dust is eliminated or reduced to the minimum possible. Workers should be educated concerning this potential newly recognized risk to their health and trained in proper work procedures.