Thursday, November 6, 2008

Heavy Metals in Tattoo Ink

Tattoos have a colorful history (no pun intended!), and viewpoints vary just as much now as they ever have. They've been called trendy, tacky, and now ... toxic?

If you're thinking about getting inked, it pays to do your research first. The dyes injected into your skin get their bright hues and permanent staying power from heavy metals, which can include arsenic and lead, just to name a few. In this respect, some colors are worse than others; reds, for example – most of which contain mercury – have been known to cause allergic reactions and make people extra-sensitive to other sources of mercury (such as dental fillings). Several major lawsuits have brought the high metal content of tattoo pigments to light recently, and though the FDA has the power to regulate those pigments, they haven't officially deemed them safe for injection.

Before you commit to a tattoo, find out what's in the ink. Manufacturers are not required to reveal their proprietary ingredient lists, so it may require a bit of intensive searching. Generally, though, the more professional and reputable the tattoo artist, the more knowledgeable (and trustworthy!) he or she will be. And if the studio staff mixes its own pigments, they'll be able to give you the information you require in order to make a smart decision. When it comes to ink, stop and think.

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