Is Titanium Dioxide Safe in Soap?
Recently, we’ve been asked why we use titanium dioxide in our black raspberry, clean cotton, and ocean goat milk soaps. We add a tiny amount because those three soaps tend to take on a grey hue. The titanium dioxide lightens the soap and makes them a lot prettier. We feel that adding small amounts of titanium dioxide to soap is not a safety issue.
Some people have concerns about its use because there has been a lot of buzz lately about possible carcinogenic effects of titanium dioxide. It seems much of this stems from folks reading headlines without following up to read the articles.
Yes, it’s true that in April of 2011 the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued an 86-page report http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2011-160/pdfs/2011-160.pdf detailing these possible effects. As so often happens, headline writers took some liberty in summarizing the report leading many people to believe that the titanium dioxide that they see as an ingredient in their bath & body products, cosmetics, toiletries and even food could be putting them at risk for cancer. This is not at all what the report states, implies, or construes.
Titanium dioxide has been problematic for rats forced to inhale large quantities, or who have had it injected directly into their trachea (thus bypassing the nasal filtering mechanisms). The study that conducted this research http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4002222 concluded that despite all of the rats’ troubles, the correlating risk to humans was negligible.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) used the data from the above study and decided that people who are working with titanium dioxide in a fine-particulate dust form could be at risk if they breathe too much of it. http://www.ccohs.ca/headlines/text186.html This, however, will not be a problem for anyone who has it in the soap they are using in the shower. So breathe easy; the few varieties of Goat Milk Stuff soap that contain tiny amounts of titanium dioxide (black raspberry, clean cotton, and ocean) will not cause cancer when used properly. More summary information on all of this can be found here. http://www.organicmakeup.ca/ca/titaniumdioxide.asp
On a more positive note, well-known Natural Health proponent, Dr. Mercola has frequently and consistently endorsed the use of titanium dioxide on the skin:
“I’m not a big fan of sunscreen use on a regular basis; even when it works, it blocks your body’s natural production of vitamin D. But in situations where you must be out in the sun long enough to burn, be sure to use a product that protects against both UVA and UVB, such as Natural Sunscreen, which uses a titanium dioxide/zinc combination that reflects both types of rays — while also giving you a beautiful, glowing and healthy tan.” (What’s the Most Dangerous Part of Sun Exposure?)
So go ahead and use good soap from Goat Milk Stuff, even if the variety you love does have a little titanium dioxide in it to make it prettier.