Toxic substances in tattoo colors

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Toxic substances in tattoo colors: In analyzes, consumer protection groups found carcinogenic substances and banned preservatives

The Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Consumer Protection warns of toxic ingredients in tattoo inks. In the colors, some carcinogenic substances and traces of car paints were found in samples. The consumer protection minister calls for stricter rules and a new tattoo agent regulation.

Since May 1, 2009, the tattoo agent regulation has been in force in Germany, which all tattoo providers must abide by. Apparently, this regulation is not enough. In the past year, numerous colors were examined for ingredients on behalf of the Minister of Consumer Protection. The scientists from different studios analyzed a total of 38 tattoo colors. The testers particularly focused on the tattoo colors red, orange and yellow, because the greatest health risks are suspected here. A total of 34 samples (about a third) were objected to because some banned substances were found. In half of all the colors examined, questionable ingredients were found, which contained substances such as aromatic amines, nitrosamines and phenol. In two thirds of the cases, technical color pigments were even found, which are also used to manufacture car paints. Harmful substances could be excluded in only 5 percent of the colors tested.

Consumer advocates call for stricter guidelines In this context, Baden-Württemberg's Minister of Consumer Protection Rudolf Köberle calls for stricter guidelines for tattoo inks. "The safety assessment of tattoo inks must be made compulsory before they come into contact with human skin," said Köberle yesterday in Karlsruhe. In order to protect consumers from health consequences, the tattoo agent regulation urgently needs to be improved. The regulation has existed since 2009 and has not been changed since. The manufacturers, importers and tattoo shops must be held responsible so that the colors can be checked for harmlessness. In addition, the federal government should draw up a so-called positive list so that it is publicly known which components in the colors are harmless for consumers. The present results show that the majority of the colors pose considerable risks to health.

Tattoo fans should get detailed information in advance. An unsafe situation now arises for consumers. How should harmful substances be clearly identified? The head of the laboratory for cosmetic products at the Chemical Veterinary Examination Office (CVUA) in Karlsruhe advises tattoo enthusiasts to get smart with the operator before getting a tattoo. For this you should read the "Guidelines of the Examination Offices for Tattoo Studio Operators" in advance. These are available online. Then the operator can be asked specifically about the ingredients of the colors. Anyone who is subsequently dissatisfied or has suffered health damage should report this to the Veterinary Examination Office as soon as possible.

More than ten percent are tattooed The joy of tattooing has increased significantly in the past ten years. A few decades ago, most people associated skin color samples with a criminal background or youth subculture. Today tattoos are almost socially recognized. Even bank managers now wear artistic color pictures on their skin. WHO estimates that around 10 to 20 percent of people in western industrialized countries are tattooed. Around one percent of them are heavily tattooed. To date, it has not been clearly clarified which long-term consequences can arise. It has only been scientifically proven that tattoo wearers often have dyes in the lymph nodes. According to health experts, cancer can also develop from this. Although many doctors suspect that the risk of cancer generally increases, it has not yet been scientifically confirmed. So far, there have been no sufficient long-term studies to prove this.

Operators order tattoo inks online
It could become more difficult for operators to acquire inexpensive dyes in the future. A large number of shop owners order the colors online. Some of these are then supplied from Asian countries. It is precisely with these colors that there is a high risk that carcinogenic substances, prohibited preservatives or toxic dyes are contained. For this reason, the Minister of Consumer Protection calls for uniform, binding regulations that should also apply internationally. The head of the laboratory complained that the cosmetics regulation is very precisely and unambiguously regulated, that there is an acute need to catch up with the tattoo agent regulation. Numerous changes and innovations would have to be made here. (sb)

Image: Christoph Aron (Pixelmaster-X, deep-pixel) /

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