Your tattoo can make you sick

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched an investigation after new research turned up troubling findings about toxic chemicals in tattoo ink.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched an investigation after new research turned up troubling findings about toxic chemicals in tattoo ink. The recently published studies have found that the inks being used can contain several potentially dangerous substances, including thimerosal, phthalates, lead, copper, lithium and hydrocarbons, which are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.

One chemical commonly used to make black tattoo ink, called benzo(a)pyrene, is known to be a potent carcinogen that causes skin cancer, according to animal tests. Colored ink often contains lead, cadmium, chromium, nickel, titanium and other heavy metals that could trigger allergies or diseases, scientists say. Some pigments are industrial-grade dyes suitable for printer ink or automobile paint, according to an FDA fact sheet.

There is particular concern about the use of black tattoo inks, often made from soot-containing products of combustion called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The PAHs in the inks include benzo(a)pyrene, a compound identified in an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) toxicity report as “among the most potent and well-documented skin carcinogens.”

The EPA adds, “One of the chemicals known to be used in tattoo ink is thimerosal, also called thiomersal, an organic compound containing ethylmercury. In the U.S., thimerosal is commonly included in tattoo inks, vaccines, antivenins, and eye and ear products as a preservative. Due in part to mercury’s toxic effects, thimerosal is very effective at killing off fungal and bacterial growth.” However, mercury is also a well-known neurotoxin.

Today, an estimated 45 million people in the U.S., including at least 36 percent of adults in their late 30s, have at least one tattoo.

Considering the new research, it makes sense to think long and hard about getting a tattoo.

 

Sources: www.environmentalhealthnews.org and www.ecobites.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 5, October/November 2012.

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