Red tattoo ?? Better not

And summer shows: tattoos are becoming more and more common, but also more dangerous, reports the University of Graz in a Press release.

Chemists from the University of Graz, working with Swedish and Canadian researchers, have examined more than 70 common tattoo inks. The study leads to an alarming result: nine out of ten colors do not meet all legal requirements. Incorrect pigments were detected in every other sample. And everyone was polluted with chromium and nickel.

Body worship increases, with it the risk of side effects. Reason enough for an international team of researchers to take a closer look at tattoo colors. TO. University-Prof. Mag. Dr. Walter Gössler of the Institute for Chemistry at the University of Graz analyzed 73 frequently used colors in collaboration with the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (Sweden), the Stockholm Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the University of Western Ontario (Canada).

Dangerous pigments in brilliant splendor

93 percent of the samples violated at least one of the criteria prescribed by law. 50 percent said the wrong pigments were the ingredients, ”says Gössler, summarizing the results.

Allergy testing was recommended on some products, but this was totally against the advice of dermatologists. “In the worst case, such a self-test could lead to the development of allergies,” warns Gössler.

Big differences, many harmful substances

Although there were major differences between manufacturers, researchers found many harmful substances inside: Traces of the often incompatible metals, nickel and chromium, were found in all samples. Several pigments banned or classified as questionable were found in 61% of the colors examined.

The chemists extracted the arsenic, mercury and lead in one sample each.

Copper was mainly present in green and blue colors and exceeded the limit value in three samples.

Gössler: “The most common impurities contained red dyes, the weakest in black and white. “


The researchers demand that in addition to legal requirements, colors be more intensively controlled and that consumers be made aware of possible risks.

The study is in the journal “Contact dermatitisappeared.


Uni Graz / Mag. Christian Boukal
October 2021


Winston Ferguson

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