How your tattoo might be slowly poisoning you (and it’s not the ink)

Just about half of people between the ages of 23 and 38 have at least one tattoo. Sadly, the toxins engendered by the procedure are not discernable until many years after exposure. Alongside previously conducted research on particle distribution in the human body, a new paper has emerged, published in the journal Particle and Fibre Toxicity.  The authors posit that the dissemination of nickel and chromium-containing particles from tattoo needles wear in humans and it potentially impacts allergic reactions

“We were following up on our previous study, by trying to find the link between iron, chromium and nickel and the coloring of the inks,” study author Ines Schreiver, of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Germany, explained to News Atlas. “After studying several human tissue samples and finding metallic components, we realized that there must be something else. …Then we thought of testing the needle and that was our ‘eureka’ moment.”

Particle and Fibre Toxicology

After an extensive examination of tissue under an x-ray, the authors concluded that needle particles are only present when in unison with titanium dioxide. Together, these translocate to the lymph nodes. Research enacted on pigskin in the past confirmed the suspected nickel contamination of iron pigments and its relation to nickel-driven tattoo allergies.

Now, the new report presents an additional entry of nickel to both skin and lymph nodes spawning from tattoo needle wear with a yet to be assessed impact on tattoo allergy formation and systemic sensitization. The only problem is the effect is only clarified several years after initial exposure.

“The fact that all pigments and wear particles are deposited in lymph nodes calls for special attention to be placed on allergy development,” says Schreiver. “Unfortunately, today, we can’t determine the exact impact on human health and possible allergy development deriving from the tattoo needle wear.

“These are long-term effects which can only be assessed in long-term epidemiological studies that monitor the health of thousands of people over decades.”