Tattoo ink may be toxic, study suggests

Getting inked may lead to long-term skin problems and an increased risk of cancer, according to a new report by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

The regulatory agency is calling for the ban of the tattoo ink, The Sun reported. Risks included serious allergic reactions and painful itching that can last for years.

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Researchers found red ink was the most dangerous, but they warned blue, green and black ink is also risky. According to The Sun, the ECHA’s report will likely lead in the ban of certain inks and chemicals in the European Union (EU).

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

Governments in the EU do not regulate tattoo ink as they do drugs and food, and many shops operate without government regulation, The Sun reported.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates chemicals in products including tattoo ink, cosmetics and color additives. But due to other public health priorities and a previous lack of safety evidence, the FDA has not traditionally regulated tattoo ink and pigments.

A recent influx of cheap Chinese tattoo inks that aren’t subject to safety checks are to blame, Rick Stevens, president of the Tattoo and Piercing Industry Union in the United Kingdom, told The Sun.