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homeThursday 22nd October 2020

EU to investigate tattoo ink safety

Katie Coyne03/08/2016 - 12:57

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Potential health risk from tattoo ink
Potential health risk from tattoo ink

Concerns that tattoo ink and permanent make-up could make people ill are being investigated by the European Chemicals Agency.

There are concerns that tattoo inks and PMU may contain hazardous substances that could cause cancer, genetic mutations, toxic effects on reproduction, allergies or other adverse health effects.

Despite tattoo ink being in long term, close contact with the body, they are not regulated with the same strictness as other substances that do - such as cosmetics.

The ECHA has been asked by the European Commission to look into the safety of tattoo ink and PMU and will use a number of existing works carried out by the Commission. The two main reports are: Safety of tattoos and permanent make-up; and the work of the Council of Europe. It will also look at the recently published report by the Commission’s Joint Research Committee.

Currently there are 60 million Europeans with tattoos and it is a growing trend, as is tattoo removal. However, the potential long term effects of exposure to the chemicals in the ink are not known.

With so many people getting tattoos not knowing potential long term health effects is a concern. Also, the number of reported cases of adverse effects of tattoo application and removal have increased.

Several European member states, including Germany, Netherlands, France and others in Scandinavia, have been pushing for greater controls over tattooing activity. They want to see changes encompassing general health and safety requirements, infection control (skin prep, equipment decontamination and so on.), ink quality and more.  

The ECHA will also be looking into the availability of alternatives and the socio-economic impact of any possible restrictions.

Some ink colours have been highlighted as more concerning than others – red ink, followed by green, black and blue. An increase in cheaper imported ink has also been linked to a rise in skin reactions. 

However, following hysteria in the mainstream press a statement on its Facebook page read: ‘ECHA is not being asked to ban tattooing or tattoo inks – our work is to examine individual substances in the inks.

‘ECHA and some Member States are currently planning how best to share the work. If it is found that a restriction is needed, a formal proposal to restrict the substances will be submitted to initiate the restriction process.

‘The objective is to ensure that people can get tattoos or permanent make up in all EU Member States without concerns for their health.’

When the restriction dossier is ready and if action is required on an EU-wide basis, the report will be available on ECHA's website here http://echa.europa.eu/registry-of-submitted-restriction-pro… 

 

 

 

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