Is inhalation of whitener harmful to health

«Kassensturz» test - unnecessary health risk in colorful sweets

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  • Manufacturers use titanium dioxide to make white foods whiter and colored foods brighter.
  • Most of these foods also contain nano-sized titanium dioxide.
  • There are initial indications that titanium dioxide in this form could be carcinogenic. France now bans the gloss and dye.
  • "Kassensturz" tested eight products that contain titanium dioxide. All of them contain this additive in nano size.

Titanium dioxide is ultra-white, can scatter light and is UV-resistant. This substance has been in paint, plastics and building materials for around a hundred years. It has been possible to use titanium dioxide in the form of nanoparticles since the 1990s.

Test tables

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You can find the detailed test results here.

Just to look good

In nano size - according to the definition below 100 nanometers - they have different properties and effects than larger particles of the same substance. That makes them attractive as an additive.

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In the form of these larger macroparticles, titanium dioxide is considered to be harmless to health, which is why it is approved as an additive in food. It is unclear whether this also applies to titanium dioxide in nanoform. However, research into the health risks of titanium dioxide nanoparticles is still in its infancy.

Nanometer

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A nanometer is a billionth of a meter. For comparison: the size ratio of one nanometer to an orange corresponds to the ratio of this orange to the entire globe.

“Nanoparticles can enter cells, and even be absorbed by cells,” says Hanspeter Nägeli, toxicology professor and institute director at the University of Zurich. For years he has been researching the effects of nano-sized substances, including titanium dioxide. Research has shown that the tiny particles cause inflammation under certain circumstances, says toxicologist Nägeli.

Nano titanium dioxide Stimorol, V6 and M & M's

"We suspect that titanium dioxide is a factor in chronic intestinal inflammation, which is an increasing disease, especially in our societies," he warns. That is serious. Because, according to Nägeli, it is clear that "chronic inflammation can also be a risk factor for cancer."

So was tested

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The French TV consumer program “A bon Entendeur” has selected eight products which, according to the declared composition, contain titanium oxide. These include groceries, toothpastes, and a dietary supplement. The specialized French Laboratoire National de Métrologie has investigated how large the proportion of nanoparticles is in the titanium dioxide of these products. To do this, the laboratory extracted the titanium dioxide from the samples, measured the particles under the electron microscope and counted the particles that are smaller than 100 nanometers. The proportion of nanoparticles is calculated from this.

The test by “Kassensturz” and “A bon Entendeur” now shows that titanium oxide is also contained as nanoparticles in all eight products examined: in pralines, in “Sour fireflies”, “M & M's”, “Doppelherz aktiv Glucosamine” and chewing gum - Brands V6 and Stimorol. It doesn't look any better with the Sensodyne rapid and Odol-Med 3 toothpastes.

ABE: Unnecessary nanoparticles

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The French-speaking Swiss consumer program “A bon entendeur” (ABE) examined foods and toothpastes for titanium dioxide and silicon dioxide in nano size. You can find the whole test here, the link will open in a new window.

France bans titanium dioxide

The effects of the tiny titanium dioxide particles on human health have not been clarified. A health risk cannot currently be ruled out. Therefore, in France, titanium dioxide will be banned in food for one year from 2020.

It remains approved in Switzerland. If you want to avoid this substance, you will usually find it declared as E171 on the list of ingredients.

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  • Comment from Thomas Heimberg (tomfly)
    Oh, alas, something unhealthy again. What today is actually not toxic, dangerous, unhealthy, carcinogenic, harmful to the climate and whatever. Leaves me completely cold. Those few smarties I eat a year won't kill me. And if it does - what's the point? I prefer to enjoy life than to stand in constant health stress and analyze every package for harmful substances. I dare say that eating some "poison" is healthier than worrying about your health.
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Angelo Rizzi (Strizzia)
    Thanks for the aluminum contribution. I have just removed my beloved "Chewing Gum Menthol" chewing gum from Migros M-Budget from my "menu". Contains E307, E171, E903, E553b. E422.
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Marcel Bürki (BuySmart)
    CI 77891 is also written on both children’s Elmex toothpastes (toddlers and junior)
    Agree agree to the comment
    1. answer from Juerg Schwaller (Jürg Schwaller)
      CI 77891 also says "Elmex Sensitive plus"
      Agree agree to the comment
    2. Show answers

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