Science

Tattoo ink health risk fears could lead to EU restrictions

A vote by member states could be held next summer.

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The European Union could restrict the chemicals used in tattoo inks over fears some may pose a risk to health.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is assessing the possible dangers of substances used to create body art, and whether EU-wide legislation is needed to ensure their safety.

It said the “the most severe concerns” relate to allergies and the possibility that the chemicals could cause cancer.

No link has been proven between tattoos and the development of cancer.

A vote by EU member states could be held next summer, if experts formally recommend restrictions be introduced, the ECHA said.

Mark Blainey, senior scientific officer, said: “The composition of some tattoo inks and permanent make-up raises concerns for public health.

“The most severe concerns are allergies caused by the substances in the inks and that they can possibly cause cancer, DNA damage or effects on reproduction.”

He added: “We are not looking to ban tattooing but to make sure when people get a tattoo that the inks are as safe as possible.”

Around 12% of Europeans have tattoos, but there is currently no “harmonised process” across the continent to assess the safety of inks, the ECHA said.

In October, the agency concluded that restrictions on chemicals were needed and a formal opinion is due to be sent to the European Commission later this year.

EU member states are expected to vote on whether to impose limits on the use of around 4,000 chemicals in the summer of 2019, after the UK is due to have left the union.

The ECHA said tattoo artists should be able to provide information on the inks used, including where they were sourced from, but anyone concerned can contact their healthcare provider for advice.

Those thinking of getting a tattoo should research the inks that will be used beforehand, the agency added.

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