Research Shows That A Lack Of Regulation For Tattoo Ink Poses Health Risks

Posted by Mahnoor Nadir in News On 22nd July 2021
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This Western University researcher found that the lack of legislation and regulation around tattoo ink can have severe health related repercussions.

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This Western University professor in London, Ont found as part of her research that there is a need for stronger legislation around the standardization of tattoo ink in Canada.

The study which was jointly conducted in Sweden analysed 73 samples of ink that they had collected from retailers and suppliers.

Most of the inks that they procured were formulated in the USA.

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93% of the inks procured were in violation of the standardization procedures that were in place by European regulation authorities and failed to include crucial information on their labels. This includes batch number, sterility, expiry information, manufacturer and contact info.

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Hedberg, the research lead also found that 20 of the 73 inks procured shared the same list of ingredients despite being obviously different in make and colour.

The inks were studied for their composition and compared to information that was present on the label.

Hedberg said, “Fifty per cent of all the tattoo inks we analyzed were declaring at least one pigment wrong,"

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"They more often didn't write the pigment in the ingredients list that was actually discussed to be banned in Europe, or that was already prohibited, so they omitted that on the ingredient list, but they still had it in. And it was much more seldom the other way around where you actually had a pigment written there that was prohibited, but it was not in the ink."

These missing details and lack of consistency in labeling could pose significant risks to consumers.

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Skin conditions such as eczema can even be triggered up to 10 years later in certain inks. Red ink is a particular culprit, the effects of which may remain even after the ink has been removed through laser treatment.

Experts recommend sticking with name brand inks at the moment until standardization kicks into place.

Michel Ginscbrook of the Tattoo & Piercing School of Canada says, "I like to stick to name-brand inks. An ink brand, Eternal, the ink that I use, is manufactured here in Canada, and it's a very, very good brand. It does have to be a water-based ink, not just because oil-based is illegal, but a lot of oil-based inks have chemicals in them that are carcinogenic. I would never use ink that would be possibly dangerous working on a client."

He also revealed that a lot of tattoo artists opt for cheaper ink, to keep their costs low at the detriment of their customers.

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Hedberg said that there’s no telling whether one may react to inks or not or what the long term effects of unregulated ink would be.

"They are changing the substances all the time, and you can't be sure that there are actually substances in there other than what is written,"

"That means you're never really safe even if you already have proven for yourself that you are not reacting to tattoos you already got. Just try to be careful."

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