New EU ban on thousands of harmful chemicals in tattoo inks. Will the UK do the same?
12% of the population of Europe has a tattoo but we seldom hear about safety concerns around tattoo inks.
Based on hazardous chemicals in tattoo inks including chemicals toxic to reproduction and those that can cause genetic mutations and cancer, a ban came into place in the EU in January 2022 which will stop over 4000 of these hazardous chemicals from being used in tattoo inks and permanent make up.
Tattoo inks are complex chemical mixtures containing several ingredients and have diverse health concerns connected to their use. Pigments in tattoo inks are not always produced specifically for tattooing and risk assessments are not carried out that take their injection and permanence under the skin into account.
The purity of these inks is also a problem, and they often contain, whether intentionally or as an impurity, substances that are hazardous to human health. Due to the permanence of tattoos, people can be exposed to these harmful substances for many many years. Evidence shows that a significant number of people have skin problems after getting a tattoo, including bleeding, crusts and itching. Reducing chronic allergic reactions and inflammations of the skin are expected to occur following the ban and the more serious effects such as cancer could also decrease.
It is welcome that the UK has also started a restriction process on tattoo inks. In March 2021, the Health and Safety Executive, HSE, was asked to review the risks posed by certain substances and consider the case for bans. A consultation on their findings is due in spring 2022. Make sure you are following us on twitter for our take on the HSE findings.