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Study Shows Over 80% of Tattoo Inks Contain 'Ingredients' Connected to Serious Health Risks

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A new study indicates that tattoo inks could have potentially harmful ingredients in them and that many inks do not accurately explain what Americans are putting under their skin.

The study, posted in the journal Analytical Chemistry, said that of 54 inks tested, 45 — or 83 percent — contained ingredients not listed on the label.

“Major, unlisted adulterants include poly(ethylene glycol), propylene glycol, and higher alkanes. Many of the adulterants pose possible allergic or other health risks,” the study reported.

“Taken together, the results from this study highlight the potential for a significant issue around inaccurate tattoo ink labeling in the United States,” the study said.

“We’re hoping the manufacturers take this as an opportunity to re-evaluate their processes, and that artists and clients take this as an opportunity to push for better labeling and manufacturing,” Assistant Professor of Chemistry John Swierk said in a news release from Binghamton University.

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The release noted that tattoo ink regulation is in its infancy.

In 2022, Congress passed the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act, giving the federal Food and Drug Administration its first authorization to regulate tattoo ink.

“The FDA is still figuring out what that is going to look like,” Swierk said.

Before 2022, tattoos were considered a cosmetic product, which meant they were not regulated, according to the New York Post.

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However, even in that regulatory environment, 18 recalls of tattoo inks took place due to contamination.

The release said the study broke new ground.

“This is also the first study to explicitly look at inks sold in the United States and is probably the most comprehensive because it looks at the pigments, which nominally stay in the skin, and the carrier package, which is what the pigment is suspended in,” Swierk said.

“Our goal in a lot of this research is to empower artists and their clients. Tattoo artists are serious professionals who have dedicated their lives to this craft, and they want the best possible outcomes for their clients. We’re trying to highlight that there are some deficiencies in manufacturing and labeling.”

The study found that more than half of the samples contained polyethylene glycol, which was not listed as an ingredient. The Post noted the chemical can cause kidney failure.

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The release said an antibiotic often used to treat urinary tract infections and a chemical called 2-phenoxyethanol were also found in some of the inks. The National Institutes of Health said 2-phenoxyethanol can potentially cause lung and liver irritation, as well as kidney and nerve damage.

Swierk has been studying tattoo inks for several years and said although no firm health conclusions can be drawn, “Every time we looked at one of the inks, we found something that gave me pause,” according to the American Chemical Society.

“For example, 23 of 56 different inks analyzed to date suggest an azo-containing dye is present,” he said.

“Bacteria or ultraviolet light can degrade them into another nitrogen-based compound that is a potential carcinogen, according to the Joint Research Centre, which provides independent scientific advice to the European Union,” per the ACS.


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Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack can be reached at jackwritings1@gmail.com.
Location
New York City
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Foreign Policy, Military & Defense Issues




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