As part of an international cooperative project, a group of researchers led by Ines Schreiver and Andreas Luch of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung: BfR) have determined how ink pigments used in tattoo inks can accumulate over the long term in lymph nodes. The surprise is that the pigment particles that move from the skin are nanoparticles, meaning that they have completely different chemical and physical properties than microparticles. As a result, they behave differently in the body. But today, scientists know that the buildup of foreign material can increase the size of lymph nodes – and those who are affected are exposed to the material for a lifetime. However, scientists do not yet know the concrete health effects of such exposure. Please see the press release of the BfR (German only) or the original publication for more details.
Last year, the EU asked the ECHA to determine the risks of tattoo inks more exactly. Possible actions include limiting or even completely prohibiting certain ingredients, such as azo dyes. Together with Denmark, Germany, Italy, and Norway, the ECHA is now looking at specific ingredients to determine any future limitations.
We reported on this topic in a blog article last year, “How Safe Are Tattoo Inks and Permanent Makeup?”.
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