In 2010, the Swedish Chemicals Agency analysed popular brands of inks for tattooing, which showed that the inks contained substances hazardous to health.
Substances that are known to cause allergies, cancer, mutations and harm reproduction were found in most of the analysed inks. Other countries have found high concentrations of bacteria in tattoo inks.
Risks connected with colour pigment in the skin
Anyone considering having a tattoo made should be aware of the risks. The ink is inserted into the skin and remains in the body, perhaps for the rest of one's life. Some pigments "fade" over time which could mean that the colour is either transported from the skin, into the body, or that it changes its chemical structure and loses its colour. Some pigments are broken down by laser or UV light and some pigments form dangerous breakdown products that can be more harmful to health than the original colour pigment.
Ask for results from analyses
To ensure that the colour does not contain substances hazardous to health, it should be tested and at least fulfil the criteria in the Council of Europe Resolution ResAP(2008)1 for the safety of tattoos and permanent make-up on prohibited substances in tattoo inks.
Resolution ResAP(2008)1 for the safety of tattoos and permanent make-up
Many tattooists present such results from analysis of the colours they currently use. Make certain that the test result is up to date and concerns the colour in question to be inserted in your body.
At present there are no general provisions in Sweden to regulate tattoo inks but a proposal for national regulations and limit values similar to the ones presented in the recommendations of the Council of Europe has been sent to the Swedish Government for a decision.
Some European countries have introduced special national provisions based on the Council of Europe’s recommendation. This applies to date at least to the Netherlands, in 2003, France, in 2007, and Norway and Germany in 2008. There are also rules on tattoo inks in Switzerland.