Study Finds Sunlight-Exposure Can Cause Tattoo Inks to Emit Cancer Causing Chemicals
A recent report on tattoo inks found that nearly half of the inks studied contained chemicals that could cause cancer or lead to cancerous mutations after exposure to UV light.
Before we get started discussing this study, if you have tattoos or if you're thinking about getting tattoos, don't freak out. Let's take a look at the information and see what's going on here, and then you make the right decision for you.
A new study has found that roughly half of all tattoo inks contain cancer-causing chemicals that can become activated after exposure to UV light, or sunlight.
The findings were presented by John Swierk, Assistant Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at Binghamton University, State University of New York at at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Chicago.
Half of the inks in the study were found to contain azo compounds, which can become carcinogenic if they decompose when exposed to sunlight or bacteria.
Dr. John Swierk's study found that out of the 56 tattoo inks tested, 23 contained azo compounds.
Tattoo inks that contained azo compounds were most likely to be green or blue in color according to cosmopolitan.com.
From cosmopolitan.com -
"The research also says many of the inks were found to contain tiny particles, so small they'd be able to penetrate a cell's nucleus, triggering cancerous mutations, and substances that were not labeled (including ethanol in one case, which can thin the blood)."
According to the study, the issue with the tattoo inks isn't that the pigments aren't harmful by themselves. The concern comes when the inks begin to break down and decompose after UV and bacteria exposure.
Cosmetic tattooist and college lecturer Liarna Jessica Yearwood told Cosmopolitan UK "If you have already have a tattoo or permanent makeup, and you are not experiencing any health concerns, then you should be fine."
We looked for more information about how much UV light exposure it takes to cause the tattoo ink to break down, but couldn't find anything that really defined it.