The Toxic Truth About Tattoos

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The tattoo trend started 20 years ago in America and Europe, and it has become  a worldwide obsession. Thankfully, I’ve never gotten a tattoo and after reading this study I am happy I never did. If you are thinking about getting a tattoo,  you may not even be aware that there are many health dangers to receiving a tattoo.

The Toxic Truth About Tattoos

  • Tattoo inks contain a myriad of heavy metals. Red tattoo inks often contain mercury, and tattoos pierce the skin leaving the ink permanently embedded. FDA has not approved any tattoo pigments for injection into the skin. Tattoo parlors are regulated by the state and city, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require manufacturers to release their ink’s ingredients; doing so could supposedly give away trade secrets. The lack of regulation is slightly unnerving considering that 36 percent of people ages 18-25 have tattoos, as do 40 percent of those 26-40 years old. That means approximately 45 million Americans have been inked, and one-third of those did so because it makes them feel “sexy.”
  • Many pigments used in tattoo inks are industrial-grade colors suitable for printer ink or automobile paint. The FDA’s website warns about tattoo ink possibly causing infections, allergic reactions, keloids (formation of a scar), granulomas (inflammation) and potential complications while receiving MRIs.
  • The carrier solution used in tattoo inks contains harmful substances such as denatured alcohols, methanol, antifreeze, detergents, formaldehyde and toxic aldehydes.
  • What’s more, the review found eight cases of malignant melanoma on the site of the tattoo. “Tattoo inks may contain carcinogens, but it’s unclear whether the reported cases of skin cancer are associated with tattoos or occurred coincidentally,” says Dr. Bäumler, whose study noted that this number is few in comparison to the many people who have tattoos. (In fact, 24% of the population is inked.)
  • An alarming research study recently published by Dr. Bob Haley and Dr. Paul Fischer at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas uncovered that the “innocent” commercial tattoo may be the number one distributor of hepatitis C. The study was published in the journal Medicine(Haley RW, Fischer RP, Commercial tattooing as a potentially source of hepatitis C infection, Medicine, March 2000;80:134-151). Dr. Haley, a preventative medicine specialist and a former Center for Disease Control (CDC) infection control official, is exceptionally knowledgeable to prepare the study. Dr. Haley concludes, “We found that commercially acquired tattoos accounted for more than twice as many hepatitis C infections as injection-drug use. This means it may have been the largest single contributor to the nationwide epidemic of this form of hepatitis.”


Tattoos can cause cancer – with one colour potentially more toxic than others, study says.

Their ink is not currently regulated in the EU, with cheap Chinese imports causing concern

Tattoos can cause cancer and mutations – and one colour is potentially more toxic than others, according to scientists.


Research by the European Chemicals Agency to be published imminently is investigating possible risks associated with being inked.

The agency said: “Many reports show significant concerns for public health stemming from the composition of inks used for tattooing.

“The most severe concerns are allergies caused by the substances in the inks and possible carcinogenic, mutagenic or reproductively toxic effects.”

Inks are not currently regulated in the EU. If any particular chemicals are found to be harmful as thought, they will be banned.

An agency spokesman said: “If it is found that a restriction is needed, a formal proposal to restrict the substances will be submitted within one year to initiate the process.”

Red ink has been linked to dermatitis – swelling and soreness – due to it containing mercury sulphide while.

Meanwhile red, blue, green and purple ones are more likely to cause granulomas – little ridges of bumps on the skin.

The public will be asked to contribute to the research. The NHS has also warned of the dangers of ‘black’ or ‘neutral’ henna.

Different to authentic henna, which is orange in colour, this darker substance it may contain levels of a chemical dye ‘so powerful and toxic that it is illegal to use it on the skin’.

The NHS warned: “If you see a shop or stall offering to paint black tattoos onto your skin, don’t be tempted to get one. It could leave you scarred for life and put you at risk of a life-threatening allergic reaction.”

Anyone suffering an allergic reaction should contact a doctor as soon as possible.

Getting multiple tattoos can strengthen your immune system.

Looking for a solid reason to finally get that Schrodinger’s cat tattoo you’ve always wanted? Well, science has got you covered, because new research has found that getting multiple tattoos could boost your immunological response, which makes you better able to fight off infections. The catch? You need more than one tattoo to see any improvement.

According to researchers from the University of Alabama, getting a bunch of tattoos is a lot like working out. When you first start, your body is weakened by the new stress. At the gym, this means sore muscles. For tattooing, the process often leaves you feeling generally exhausted because your body is wondering why you injected a foreign contaminant deep into your skin.

But after a few days in the gym, your muscles start to strengthen and you no longer feel like death. Noticing how this works for muscles, the team wondered if the same could be said about tattooing. Could getting multiple pieces tattooed act as an immunological exercise routine?

As it turns out, yes. The researchers were able to verify this by heading out to a local tattoo shop and recruiting volunteers for a study that examined how many tattoos a person had and how long each tattooing session was. With this data, they then analysed blood samples to gauge the participants’ levels of immunoglobulin A, which is an antibody, and cortisol, a stress hormone.

The team found that people who were getting their very first tattoo had a large drop in immunoglobulin A thanks to rising cortisol levels. As for those who had been tattooed many times before, immunoglobulin A levels decreased only a tiny bit, which, according to the team, suggests that the body is strengthening its immunological response.

“After the stress response, your body returns to an equilibrium,” said Christopher Lynn, one of the study’s authors. “However, if you continue to stress your body over and over again, instead of returning to the same set point, it adjusts its internal set points and moves higher.”

Though the team’s findings make logical sense, it’s important to point out that the study was only conducted with 24 women and 5 men, a sample size that’s large enough to suggest that something is going on here, but small enough to warrant further study to confirm that.

What we’re saying is if you want to boost your immune system, getting multiple tattoos is probably not the best way of going about that, but if you need a reason to get one more, you can add this study to the list.

Bad news for tattoos – Many tattoo inks contain dangerous heavy metals, phthalates and hydrocarbons

Would you knowingly inject dangerous heavy metals such as mercury, lead and arsenic into your body? How about carcinogens and endocrine disrupters such as phthalates and hydrocarbons? Chances are that is exactly what you have done if you have a tattoo, because those substances are commonly found in the inks used for tattoos.


Dangerous Heavy Metals Found in Tattoo Ink

Many tattoo inks contain heavy metals that have been linked to a large number of health problems, including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Among the most concerning metals found in tattoos are mercury, lead, antimony, beryllium, cadmium and arsenic.

Mercury is a neurotoxin, meaning it has detrimental effects on the nervous system. It can damage the brain and lead to physical and emotional disorders.

Lead interferes with a variety of body processes and is toxic to many of the body’s organs and tissues, including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, nervous and reproductive systems. In severe cases, lead poisoning symptoms can include seizures, coma and death. Other symptoms commonly associated with lead exposure include abdominal pain, confusion, headache, anemia and irritability.

Beryllium is listed as a Class A EPA carcinogen. Exposure can cause Chronic Beryllium Disease, an often fatal lung disease.

Cadmium is a heavy metal that poses severe risks to human health, including kidney, bone, and pulmonary damage.

Arsenic is a known carcinogen, and new studies have also found that exposure to higher levels of arsenic leads to genetic damage.

Antimony exposure can cause irritation of the eyes, skin and lungs. As the exposure continues, more serious problems may occur, such as lung diseases, heart problems, diarrhea, severe vomiting and stomach ulcers.

Phthalates, Hydrocarbons and Other Dangerous Compounds in Tattoo Ink

Many tattoo inks also contain dangerous phthalates and hydrocarbons. Phthalates, also contained in many cosmetic products deemed unsafe by the Environmental Working Group, have been shown to damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive systems in animal studies.

Black tattoo inks are often made from soot-containing products of combustion called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Among the PAHs in the inks is benzo(a)pyrene, a compound identified in an Environmental Protection Agency toxicity report as “among the most potent and well-documented skin carcinogens.”

Tattoo Removal Can Send a Cascade of Dangerous Chemicals Throughout the Body

As time goes by, many people who originally opted for tattoos decide they would like to have them removed. According to a 2006 survey in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 17 percent of 18 to 50-year-olds with tattoos have considered tattoo removal. However, tattoo removal may be even more dangerous than getting a tattoo in the first place.

By far the most common method of removing tattoos today is laser tattoo removal – a technique where a laser is used in repeated sessions to dissolve the tattoo. Once the tattoo inks are dissolved, their components – including any dangerous ones such as those outlined above – are absorbed into the body and bloodstream. Many may never be fully eliminated from the body, and even those components which do get eliminated may cause damage before they are eliminated.

An estimated 45 million people in the U.S. have at least one tattoo, including at least 36 percent of adults in their late 30s. For those who already have tattoos, the best advice may be to keep them – unless you want to use outdated tattoo removal techniques such as surgery which leave scars in place of the tattoos. If you don’t already have a tattoo, the best advice is to not get one.

Learn more:

The Toxic Truth About Tattoos .

What is your take on tattoos, do you have any? Well, if you don’t and are thinking about getting one maybe you should read this.


People in Europe and America have been obsessed with tattoos for many many years now. I can definitely see why, I have around thirty-three tattoos, and I love them. They make me feel so much better about myself, and every one of them means something to me. A lot of parents are against their children getting them (here lately people are getting their first one quite early in life, I was merely sixteen when I got my first tattoo.) they are concerned that it will be something they won’t like later in life or something that will make it harder for the child to get a job, and in some cases which I’ve noticed is quite often parents just don’t like them and aren’t going to allow it. First off if your child is young maybe even younger than sixteen, he/she might not need to get one because yes they may pick something out that they won’t like later on in life. Secondly, tattoos as long as they’re not disrespectful to a race, religion, gender, etc. they should not be able to keep someone from getting a job. Society today is becoming more open to the idea of tattoos, and it is gradually becoming easier for the tattooed individuals to get jobs. But, either way one tattoo usually won’t make a difference just think about placement. Third, just because you don’t like something doesn’t make it wrong. Your children and the people around you are their own persons. You will have no control over your kids when they get to the legal age of adulthood. If you deny them their right to be themselves now, they might just go out and get four tattoos on their eighteenth or nineteenth birthday and never speak to you again.

Besides as parents you are worrying about the wrong thing altogether! Instead of worrying about whether they will want it later or not, be able to get jobs, or disappoint you; maybe you should try to worry about the health hazards that can come with getting a tattoo. Oh and I think you’d feel a whole lot safer taking your child to a shop and being there while he/she gets their tattoo rather than them ‘spend the night with a friend’ and come home with a tattoo that looks like shit that they got done in some creepy guys garage for cheap, right?

Not all tattoo shops are safe, some of them just aren’t as sanitary as they need to be. You need to talk to the people there and find out if they take all the safety precautions necessary prepackaged sanitary needles, never reuse ink caps, wear gloves, of course, things like that. Some tattoo inks can also contain things like mercury, and that is not good because the ink is definitely permanent. Mercury poisoning is not a fun thing to go through. Any inks obtained overseas are likely to have metals and stuff in them that should not be used in our skin, like the inks on amazon that come with a tattoo gun kit someone is out there likely using, but it states in tiny print that the inks included are only for use on the practice skin they send with the kit. The FDA doesn’t generally regulate the color additives or pigments used for tattoo ink. The regulation is usually done by local jurisdictions. That is unless something bad has happened like an outbreak of some sort in which they have to issue a recall. While most color additives are approved for cosmetic use none of them are FDA approved for injection into the skin at all.

This lack of regulation might make some people uncomfortable since almost forty percent of the people ranging from age 18-25 have tattoos. As well as forty percent of people ages 26-40. Meaning that about forty-five million Americans have tattoos. The FDA’s website also says that some of the pigments used in tattoo inks are not even approved for skin contact at all, Being rather suitable for printers’ and automobile paint though. Tattoo inks can be used on one person and look fantastic, heal great, generally have no adverse effect but the same ink used on a different person could cause infection, allergic reactions, keloids (scar formations), inflammation, and even complications when getting an MRI done.

It all depends on the person and how their body reacts to the ink, and, of course, the sanitation of the place and artist you are going to. If you go into a tattoo shop that uses Unsterile tattooing equipment and needles, you could come out with a whole lot more than just a tattoo. You might end up with staph (Staphylococcus aureus), HIV, Hepatitis, and the list goes on. A study done at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas has brought about that tattoos might be the number one distributor of hepatitis C. They found that it might account for twice the amount of hepatitis C infections obtained from injection-drug use.

Now I’m sure you’re thinking that tattoos are bad and after reading this you’re never going to get one or allow your children to get them but if you believe that this is bad you have no idea what you’re eating every day or what you’re letting your kids around outside. You think that tattoos are bad because of the things listed above yet you allow your yards to be sprayed with RoundUp and use bug sprays made from DEET which is much worse than anything that could come from getting a tattoo! You eat things that are highly processed and tearing your body apart from the inside out yet you think it is okay to judge people with tattoos? Maybe you should take a step back and hop off of your high horse. Yes, there are bad things that can happen when you get a tattoo, that’s why you sign those papers before you get it done. I wish we could be so lucky as to have to sign papers when purchasing GMO fruit and veggies from the supermarket because there is nothing good about GMO fruit and vegetables.

Tattoos Can Cause Serious, Long-Term, Adverse Reactions

Whether it’s a skull, cross, rose, or mom’s name in a thorn bush wrapped around the bicep, about one quarter of American adults have a tattoo. But a new study says about one out of every 10 inkers does not anticipate something that can come along with them: a severe, ongoing skin reaction.

Study: Tattoos Can Cause Serious, Long-Term, Adverse Reactions

In the just-published NYU Langone Medical Center research that studied tattoo-clad New Yorkers, those who reacted to tattoos experienced a rash, itching or swelling that lasted anywhere from four months to several years, with the longest-lasting complications stemming from ink shades of red and black.

“While we know infections are a risk of tattoos and can be dependent on tattoo parlor practices, a lot of the complications in our study — and that I have seen in my patients — do not have to do with the tattoo artist or parlor practices, but rather the qualities of ink and how the body’s immune system responds to it,” Marie C. Leger, MD, PhD, study lead and Assistant Professor at the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology, tells Yahoo Health.

The 300 respondents ranged in age from 18 to 69, with most having no more than five tattoos — and 67 percent of studied tattoos were on the arms. “We were rather alarmed at the high rate of reported chronic complications tied to getting a tattoo. Given the growing popularity of tattoos, physicians, public health officials and consumers need to be aware of the risks involved,” added Leger.

While less than a third of the affected study participants saw a doctor for the reaction, the majority returned to the tattoo parlor to complain or ask for guidance. “Tattoo artists are ‘first responders’ when people have problems,” says Leger, who adds that a planned follow-up study will examine what kind of reactions artists see most frequently, and how clients are directed, in an effort to get people to the right place for help.

Experts are not surprised by the news. “While tattoos are popular among Americans, there is still little to no regulation of what exactly is being injected into the skin,” says Jeremy A. Brauer, MD, dermatologist and Director of Clinical Research at Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York, where he has seen patients with tattoo reactions — most often to red ink. The majority of patients have allergic contact dermatitis, which is marked by redness, swelling and itching in the area of the tattoo.

Treatment of tattoo reactions “can be challenging” says Brauer, who uses oral antihistamines combined with oral or injectable steroids to quell the inflammation. Blistering sometimes occurs and requires wound care and dressings, while evidence of infection is treated with antibiotics. More recently, there have been reports of successful laser treatment with both ablative and non-ablative fractional lasers, adds Bauer.

For some, the discomfort never completely goes away, and they are even driven to remove the tattoo altogether. While nanosecond (“Q-switched”) lasers have been the tattoo removal standard, the newer PicoSure laser is now clearing tattoos in “far fewer treatments than before,” says Bauer. The laser also addresses and improves scarring that can be an accompanying issue with tattoos.

And when it comes to tattoo removal, there’s one design that stands out as the one most people want to get rid of: 52 percent of doctors say tribal tattoos are the style they most frequently are asked to remove, for any number of reasons – from discomfort to regret.

Looking ahead, Leger also has plans for a bigger survey to determine what tattoo dye components are most closely tied to adverse reactions. She hopes her investigation might also reveal other factors that put some people at higher risk of suffering chronic complications.

Tattoos Confuse Apple Watch .

Some Apple Watch users who have tattoos are running into problems when using the device’s heart-rate monitor and other features, as it appears the ink in tattoos can interfere with the watch’s sensors.

This week, one person noted on the website Reddit that the Apple Watch’s auto-lock would engage when it was placed over an arm tattoo, possibly indicating that the device was not registering that it was being worn.

Tattoos are perhaps the ultimate form of self expression. Once done, they’re basically with you for good. But does all that ink doom you to life of being judged? Some studies say yes! Anthony looks at what having a tattoo says about you.
 And the heart-rate monitor gives different readings when placed over tattooed and nontattooed skin, with very dark ink colors appearing to cause the most trouble, according to the website iMore.

The Apple Watch monitors heart rate in the same way as the Basis Peak, the Fitbit Surge and other wrist-worn fitness trackers — they all use a light that shines into the skin to measure pulse.

The light strikes the blood vessels in your wrist, and then sensors on the devices detect how much light is reflected back, which lets the devices detect the changes in blood volume that occur each time your heart beats, pushing blood through your body.

The Apple Watch has an LED light that flashes many times per second to detect your heartbeat, the company says.

However, changes to the skin, including permanent tattoos, can affect the heart-rate sensor’s performance, Apple says. “The ink, pattern and saturation of some tattoos can block light from the sensor, making it difficult to get reliable readings,” Apple’s support website states.

If users are experiencing issues with the heart-rate monitor because of tattoos or other factors not related to the device itself, they can use an external heart-rate monitor (such as a chest-strap monitor) and connect it to the Apple Watch via Bluetooth, the company says.

Not all wrist tattoos will interfere with the Apple Watch’s sensors — iMore found that lighter-colored tattoos did not disrupt readings as much as darker-colored tattoos, and that patterned tattoos did not appear to cause problems. The type and design of a person’s tattoo may determine whether he or she experiences problems with the device, according to iMore.