One of the most bold, artistic ways to make a statement about your life is to get a permanent tattoo inked on your skin. Tattoos give us the freedom to express who we are, whether it’s by defining a belief, commemorating a loved one, or for some other personal reason. It’s estimated that 25 percent of Americans now have at least one permanent tattoo.
With so much permanent ink going into our skins, it’s fair to ask, “What is this ink made of, and how does it ultimately affect our skin, blood and internal organs?” By knowing and understanding the chemistry of different tattoo inks, we can better avoid potential contaminants that are absorbed into the body, ultimately doing damage to organ systems.
Food Forensics publishes lead and mercury levels for popular tattoo inks
On the surface, tattoos are an artistic expression, but when the inks are analyzed, various levels of heavy metals are recognized. Some of these metals, such as lead and mercury, are utterly toxic to the body in any dose. Body art shouldn’t be a toxic, poisonous experience. It doesn’t have to be.
Mike Adams, editor of Natural News, and clean food scientist, believes in transparency. Adams works in the public interest as the lab director of the ISO 17025 accredited mass spectroscopy CWC laboratory. In his new book, Food Forensics, he sheds light on the heavy metal contamination of popular products in the marketplace. He has even analyzed tattoo inks for their heavy metal content. Food Forensics helps us examine and compare what is best for our bodies in everything from foods, to supplements, body care products and even to tattoo ink.
An exclusive, sneak peak at Food Forensics reveals that orange and gray tattoo ink is loaded with lead and mercury – two metals that interfere with a person’s nutrient assimilation, natural hormone regulation and cognitive function, among other important bodily functions.
Tattoo inks loaded with heavy metals; may cause skin conditions, birth defects
A survey conducted by dermatologist Marie Leger of the NYU Langone Medical Center, found that over 10 percent of people with new tattoos report having skin conditions immediately after being inked. In some cases (18 of 300), the skin conditions remained for four months after being tattooed. The skin conditions, including rash, swelling, scaling, raised bumps or infection, are all indicators that the ink is toxic. The body is simply reacting in warning. Inks contaminated with heavy metals like arsenic, lead, antimony, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, mercury and nickel could be the real problem here. Cadmium toxicity is indicated by kidney, bone and pulmonary damage. Beryllium toxicity leads to fatal lung disease.
Leger believes that “we’re picking up on quite a few allergies” probably to the tattoo ink (which could be a reaction to heavy metals). As the survey showed, the conditions can persist for months or even years, and “can be supremely annoying and noxious,” Leger said.
After a 2007 lawsuit, the two largest tattoo ink manufacturers are required to put warning labels on their products, websites and catalogs. These labels must warn consumers about the ink’s potential to cause cancer and birth defects, because the “inks contain many heavy metals, including lead, arsenic and others.”
On top of heavy metal contamination, many tattoo inks also contain endocrine disrupting phthalates and hydrocarbons, both of which are harmful to the reproductive system.
For those contemplating getting a tattoo, be aware that there’s more to it than meets the eye. The raw heavy metal data on tattoo inks, published exclusively in Food Forensics, is an important scientific tool to help you decide what’s best for your body.