Tattoo Inks

Heavy Metals in Tattoo Inks

Brightly colored pigments often use inorganic complexes that contain heavy metals that are toxic to humans. This can be highly problematic if these metal-based compounds are used in tattoo inks that are injected into the skin and blood stream. To study this we measured over 200 tattoo inks and found a wide variety of metals in the inks. There was a wide variety of heavy metals in the inks, many had relatively safe metals, like titanium or zinc, while some had toxic metals present like lead (Pb) or nickel. Now some of the inks that had lead (Pb) in them have since been removed from the market


Tighe, M.E., Libby, D.K., Dorn, S.K., Hosmer, J.R. and Peaslee, G.F. A Survey of Metals Found in Tattoo Inks. Journal of Environmental Protection, 8, 1243-1253 (2017).