JEP  Vol.8 No.11 , October 2017
A Survey of Metals Found in Tattoo Inks
Abstract: While the practice of tattooing has existed for thousands of years, it has recently begun growing in popularity in the US. With the increasing prevalence of tattoos, the methods and inks involved in the tattooing process have also developed. Tattoos now use many brightly colored inks, often made using metal-based pigments. There is concern that chemicals may be present in tattoo inks in concentrations that may lead to human health concerns either during application or removal of tattoos. Since exposure to metals has been linked to tremors, liver damage, memory loss, cognitive loss, and even death, there is concern about the prevalence of metals in tattoo inks in general. To this end, a survey of 226 commercial tattoo inks was performed and each ink was analyzed for the presence of heavy metals using two different x-ray methods: Particle Induced X-Ray Emission and Scanning Electron Microscopy/ Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy. Fifteen metals were identified in various tattoo inks by these rapid x-ray methods, including chromium, manganese, nickel, copper, barium, and lead. Conclusions can be drawn about the prevalence of metals in some pigment colors and from some brands.
Cite this paper: Tighe, M. , Libby, D. , Dorn, S. , Hosmer, J. and Peaslee, G. (2017) A Survey of Metals Found in Tattoo Inks. Journal of Environmental Protection, 8, 1243-1253. doi: 10.4236/jep.2017.811077.

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