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5/4/08

Are tattoos green?


Are tattoos green?

Tattoo art and technology has improved greatly in the past two decades. But are tattoos green? We all love art, but what the heck are we putting on our bodies? Many of my tattooed friends stringently monitor the food they eat and their buying habits to ensure they don't put anything artificial into themselves or contribute to materials that are non-recyclable.

But did you know many vivid tattoo inks contain Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS plastic)?

From wikipedia:

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS, (chemical formula (C8H8· C4H6·C3H3N)n) is a common thermoplastic used to make light, rigid, molded products such as piping, musical instruments (most notably recorders and plastic clarinets), golf club heads (used for its good shock absorbance), automotive body parts, wheel covers, enclosures, protective head gear, vballs [reusable paintballs], and toys including LEGO bricks[1]. In plumbing, ABS pipes are the black pipes (PVC pipes are white) and also in Plastic Pressure Pipe Systems. ABS plastic ground down to an average diameter of less than 1 micrometer is used as the colorant in some tattoo inks. Tattoo inks that use ABS are extremely vivid. This vividness is the most obvious indicator that the ink contains ABS, as tattoo inks rarely list their ingredients[2].”

Plastic tattoos?
What else?

In 2005 two Northern Arizona students, Haley Finley-Jones and Leslie Wagner, wrote a research paper on tattoo ink. Because the FDA does not regulate tattoo ink, whatever is inked into your skin is pretty much left up to your local board of health/supervisors (and what do they know about tattoos? ; ) ). Their research revealed the discrepancies in ink and lack of medical oversight regarding what you are putting into your body.

The study found that:(from http://www.naturalnews.com/005887.html)

  • inks used to make the body art may contain toxic heavy metals.
  • when they looked at 17 tattoo inks from 5 manufacturers, researchers found evidence of a number of different metals, such as nickel and copper, in the products.
  • It's unclear how much metal may be in the different inks - or whether there is any health risk.
  • Still, the study authors say the findings highlight the lack of oversight of tattoo ink manufacturing.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which approves the color additives used in foods, cosmetics and drugs, does not regulate the inks used for tattooing, and no color additive has ever been approved for injection into the skin.
  • "A lot of people are surprised by that," said Leslie Wagner, a chemistry student at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and a co-author on the new study.
  • Many tattoo enthusiasts may assume that an ink that's injected into the skin has been approved by regulators to meet certain standards, she noted in an interview with Reuters Health.
  • However, it is not even clear what goes into a given tattoo pigment.
  • Because the inks are not sold directly to consumers, manufacturers are not required to list the components on the product label, according to the FDA.
  • And no previous scientific studies have attempted to describe the composition of the inks, Wagner said.
  • In their research, Wagner and co-author Haley Finley-Jones have so far found that tattoo ink compositions vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and from color to color.
  • She and Finley-Jones presented the preliminary findings Sunday in San Diego, at the 229th national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

So, tattoo inks vary greatly, are not regulated, and often contain PLASTIC.
Does your tattoo artist even know what's in their ink? Is it safe?
Is it green?



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