Tattoos: safe symbols?

By | January 20, 2014

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A 2003 Harris Poll reported that 16% of U.S. adults are tattooed, including over a third of those aged 25-29. Despite the art’s growing popularity, the toxicology of tattoos is poorly understood. Now some ink components–particularly heavy metals–have raised concerns. A lawsuit set to go to trial in October 2005 has been filed against nine tattoo ink companies for violations of California’s Proposition 65, which requires that Californians be warned before exposure to chemicals causing cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.

“One reason we started looking at tattoos is that the research we’ve done suggests teenage girls in particular are a huge market now for tattoos,” says Deborah Sivas, president of the nonprofit American Environmental Safety Institute (AESI AESI Associated Engineering Sciences Inc ), which filed the suit. The concern is not that the inks are acutely harmful, but rather that chronic exposure to some metals–especially lead–is a known problem.

Titanium and aluminum are often used as colorants in tattoos; more worrisome, inks using nonmetal nonmetal,

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