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Updated 26 February 2013

Tattoo ink carries significant health risk

Getting a tattoo could actually be toxic: Inspection authorities have been coming across tattoo ink that could be hazardous to one's health.

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Getting a tattoo could actually be toxic: Inspection authorities have been coming across tattoo ink that could be hazardous to one's health, according to the German Association of Food Chemists.

Dyestuffs used to make colourful tattoos are not medicines, so by default the job of checking the safety of the ink has ended up with food scientists. Investigators from the government food laboratory in the German state of Saxony were alarmed at what they found in 2011.

Worrying amounts of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) were discovered in eight of 13 samples of black tattoo ink.

Experts say PAH could harm body

The experts say PAH may be harmful to health and could move from the skin to other parts of the body.

A scientific paper in 2010 showed that ultra-violet radiation from the sun could interact with PAH to generate free radicals in skin. This causes concern because some forms of cancer are thought to result from reactions between free radicals and our DNA.

According to the association, many of the coloured tattoo inks include colour pigments that were designed for industrial usage, for example in automotive paint, writing ink or printing ink.

SAPA

 
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