Researchers from State University of New York at Binghamton analyzed 56 popular inks often used by American tattoo artists, uncovering that 23 of them have potentially hazardous azo-compounds.
While azo-compounds are not a cause for concern while chemically intact, bacteria or ultraviolet light can degrade them into another compound that is carcinogenic.
“Very little is actually known about the composition of tattoo inks, so we started analyzing popular brands,” the study’s lead author John Swierk said in a statement after Wednesday’s fall meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
“Surprisingly, no dye shop makes pigment specific for tattoo ink,” Swierk further stated. “Big companies manufacture pigments for everything, such as paint and textiles. These same pigments are used in tattoo inks.”