Titanium Tetrachloride


Titanium tetrachloride is the inorganic compound with the formula TiCl4. [1] It is a colourless to pale yellow liquid that has fumes with a strong odour. If it comes in contact with water, it rapidly forms hydrochloric acid, as well as titanium compounds. Titanium tetrachloride is not found naturally in the environment and is made from minerals that contain titanium. [2]

Uses [3]

Titanium tetrachloride is used as an intermediate in the production of titanium metal, titanium dioxide, and titanium pigments. It is also used in the manufacture of iridescent glass and artificial pearls, as a polymerisation catalyst, and to produce smoke screens. Titanium tetrachloride was formerly used with potassium bitartrate as mordant in the textile industry and with dyewoods in dyeing leather.

In the Environment [2]

Titanium tetrachloride enters the environment primarily as air emissions from facilities that make or use it in various chemical processes or as a result of spills. If moisture is present in the air, titanium tetrachloride reacts with the moisture to form hydrochloric acid and other titanium compounds, such as titanium hydroxide and titanium oxychlorides. The end-products produced when titanium tetrachloride reacts with water are titanium dioxide and hydrochloric acid. The hydrochloric acid may break down or be carried in the air. Some of the titanium compounds may settle out to soil or water. In water, they sink into the bottom sediments. They may remain for a long time in the soil or sediments. Some other titanium compounds, such as titanium dioxide, are also found in the air and water.

Sources & Routes of Exposure

Sources of Exposure [4]

  • It is unlikely that you will be exposed to titanium tetrachloride in water, soil, food, or air.
  • As titanium tetrachloride breaks down rapidly in air, you probably would not be exposed to it unless you worked in an industry that made or used it.
  • If you work in an industry that uses titanium tetrachloride, you could be exposed by breathing it or touching it.
  • If titanium tetrachloride spills, you could get it on your skin.

Routes of Exposure [5]

Probable routes of human exposure to titanium tetrachloride are inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact.

Health Effects [3]

Acute Effects

  • Titanium tetrachloride is highly irritating to the skin, eyes, mucous membranes, and respiratory tract in humans. Acute exposure may result in surface skin burns, marked congestion of mucous membranes of the pharynx, vocal cords, and trachea, and stenosis (constriction) of the larynx, trachea, and upper bronchi in humans. Acute exposure may also damage the cornea.
  • A worker accidentally exposed to a high concentration of titanium tetrachloride via inhalation later developed endobronchial polyps.
  • Eye injury, including corneal opacity, necrotic keratitis, and conjunctivitis, occurred in rats acutely exposed to titanium tetrachloride vapours.
  • Acute animal tests in rats and mice have demonstrated titanium tetrachloride to have high to extreme acute toxicity via inhalation.

Chronic Effects

  • Pleural thickening and decreased pulmonary function have been associated with chronic occupational exposure of titanium tetrachloride in titanium metal production workers.
  • Chronic inhalation exposure may result in upper respiratory tract irritation, chronic bronchitis, cough, bronchoconstriction, wheezing, chemical pneumonitis, or pulmonary oedema in humans.
  • Respiratory effects have also been observed in animals chronically exposed to titanium tetrachloride via inhalation.
  • EPA has not established a Reference Concentration (RfC) or a Reference Dose (RfD) for titanium tetrachloride.
  • ATSDR has calculated a chronic inhalation minimal risk level (MRL) of 0.0001 milligrams per cubic metre (mg/m3) based on respiratory effects in rats. The MRL is an estimate of the daily human exposure to a hazardous substance that is likely to be without appreciable risk of adverse noncancer health effects over a specified duration of exposure. Exposure to a level above the MRL does not mean that adverse health effects will occur. The MRL is intended to serve as a screening tool.

Reproductive/Developmental Effects

  • No information is available on the reproductive or developmental effects of titanium tetrachloride in humans or animals.

Cancer Risk

  • No association between titanium tetrachloride exposure and lung cancer mortality was found in one study of occupationally exposed workers.
  • No carcinogenic were observed in rats chronically exposed to titanium tetrachloride via inhalation.
  • EPA has not classified titanium tetrachloride with respect to carcinogenicity.

Safety [6]

First Aid Measures

  • Eye Contact: Check for and remove any contact lenses. Do not use an eye ointment. Seek medical attention.
  • Skin Contact: If the chemical got onto the clothed portion of the body, remove the contaminated clothes as quickly as possible, protecting your own hands and body. Place the victim under a deluge shower. If the chemical got on the victim’s exposed skin, such as the hands: Gently and thoroughly wash the contaminated skin with running water and non-abrasive soap. Be particularly careful to clean folds, crevices, creases and groin. If irritation persists, seek medical attention. Wash contaminated clothing before reusing.
  • Serious Skin Contact: Wash with a disinfectant soap and cover the contaminated skin with an anti-bacterial cream. Seek immediate medical attention.
  • Inhalation: Allow the victim to rest in a well-ventilated area. Seek immediate medical attention.
  • Serious Inhalation: Evacuate the victim to a safe area as soon as possible. Loosen tight clothing such as a collar, tie, belt or waistband. If breathing is difficult, administer oxygen. If the victim is not breathing, perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
  • WARNING: It may be hazardous to the person providing aid to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when the inhaled material is toxic, infectious or corrosive. Seek immediate medical attention.
  • Ingestion: Do not induce vomiting. Examine the lips and mouth to ascertain whether the tissues are damaged, a possible indication that the toxic material was ingested; the absence of such signs, however, is not conclusive. Loosen tight clothing such as a collar, tie, belt or waistband. If the victim is not breathing, perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Seek immediate medical attention.

Exposure Controls and Personal Protection

Engineering Controls

  • Provide exhaust ventilation or other engineering controls to keep the airborne concentrations of vapours below their respective threshold limit value.
  • Ensure that eyewash stations and safety showers are proximal to the work-station location.

Personal Protective Equipment

The following personal protective equipment is recommended when handling titanium tetrachloride:

  • Face shield;
  • Full suit;
  • Vapour respirator (be sure to use an approved/certified respirator or equivalent);
  • Gloves;
  • Boots.

Personal Protective Equipment in Case of a Large Spill:

  • Splash goggles;
  • Full suit;
  • Vapour respirator;
  • Boots;
  • Gloves;
  • A self contained breathing apparatus should be used to avoid inhalation of the product.
  • Suggested protective clothing might not be sufficient; consult a specialist BEFORE handling this product.


United States [2]

  • Releases of more than 1 pound of titanium tetrachloride must be reported to the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Maximum levels have not been established for titanium tetrachloride exposure in the workplace.