What's in Your Tattoo Ink?

Full Disclosure:

I don't like tattoos - perhaps it's the inordinate time spent (in class, no less) to applying vasoline to the new tat (apparently it helps it heal faster), or the money that's spent by students who also get the free lunch, or the fact that so many of the most eager-to-be-tatted already have children at home, who (presumably) could use that money - and attention - spent on THEM.

But, what I've been reading about the use of heavy metals in tattoo ink really does concern me.

What's in your tattoo ink?

Specific problems with the pigments:

Although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the authority to regulate tattoo pigments, tattoo pigments have not yet been approved by FDA for injection into the skin, as is done when a tattoo is made.
Heavy metals are used to give tattoo pigments their permanent color. The specific ingredients that are used in the pigments differ by color and by brand, but may include not only lead and arsenic, but also antimony, beryllium, chromium, cobalt, and nickel -- metals that have also been linked to bad outcomes in people. The amount of these metals in a tattoo may be substantial. For example, AESI states that the ink used for an index card sized (3” by 5”) tattoo contains 1.23 micrograms of lead, which is more than double the amount permitted per day under California’s Proposition 65.
Certain tattoo colors may present greater health risks than others. For example, green and blue pigments produced from copper salts (Copper Pthalocyanine) are thought to be safe, as they are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in contact lenses, surgical implants, and infant furniture paint. Similarly, black pigments made from carbon black or india ink, white pigments made from zinc or titanium white, purple pigments made from dioxazine/carbazole, and brown pigments made from iron oxides are thought to be have minimal (if any) health risks. Of the colors, red pigments, especially those that contain cadmium, iron oxides or mercury (cinnabar), are generally the most worrisome. Mercury in tattoo pigments, for example, has caused allergic reactions and scarring in people and has sensitized people to mercury from other sources, such as fish or dental fillings.
Toxicology of Tattoos?   From a medical research site.  Since it's possible that lead is involved, I think that pregnant or planning to be pregnant girls should be wary about tattoos.

What about Black Ink?
Iron oxide is a heavy metal used in some black tattoo inks. This ingredient is commonly found in older inks and is becoming increasingly less common. Certain states, such as California, have introduced legislation that bars the use of heavy metals in tattoo inks. This type of tattoo ink may react during medical procedures such as MRI scans due to its content. As a result, it's important to know whether this type of ink was used in your tattoo before undergoing these types of medical procedures.
I dunno, guys.  It seems to be just another reason that tats aren't a really good idea.



Dr.D said…
So why do you have all the nasty tats on display on your site? This has puzzled me for a loooong time.
Linda said…
I do it mostly to draw attention to those trolling around, looking for a design that they can put on their own body. Then, when they get on the site, I hit them with my arguments for NOT getting a tat.

Sort of a bait-and-switch, but for a good cause.
Dr.D said…
Gag, they are ugly. I always hesitate to come to your site knowing that those things are going to be over there. Yuck!!

vw: dedlead as in a spent bullet

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