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Abstract

The detrimental side effects of tattoos are known, but are often being ignored. Many just assume that tattooing is safe because of its popularity. Others simply fail to do their research before being injected with dies, plastics and paints. Many feel that since tattoo parlors are regulated, then the ink should be to, but that's just not true. The potential of infection with life changing infections is also present. The biggest health risk is due to heavy metal poisoning due to tattoo ink. There are things everyone should know before they are tattooed. I will endeavor to inform you of the major risks.

Risks
The risks associated with tattooing can be described as skin related diseases, end organ disease (liver, kidney, brain) and heavy metal poisoning. There are ways to avoid these effects of tattooing and I will share those with you. But first, let's look at some statistics.

According to Statistic Brain (2016),
• Americans spend a whopping 1.655 Billion dollars on tattoos annually.
• Americans that have at least one tattoo totals 45 Million people.
• The percentage of people who regret getting a tattoo is 17%.
• The percentage of Americans getting a tattoo removed is 11%.

Why are People Getting Tattoos?

These statistics are staggering numbers to me. It is surprising that this many people want to risk their health for skin art. People are motivated to get tattoos for a variety of reasons ranging from wearing art on their skin, remembering a loved one or to look sexy or dangerous. The motivation is unimportant for today's topic, but I just wanted to give you a little background.

The Dangers of Tattoo Ink Carriers

What are the dangers of tattoo ink carriers? Carriers are used to keep the ink, plastic or paint evenly distributed during application and inhibits the growth of pathogens (bacteria / viruses). Please understand that these ingredients are not regulated for use in tattooing by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) in most states.
• Ethyl Alcohol – rubbing alcohol is for use externally and should not be injected into the skin. It can cause skin drying, irritation and can negatively affect nerves.
• Glycerin – it is the sugar alcohol glycerol and can cause increased urination and diarrhea.
• Listerine – is an alcohol based concoction of menthol, methyl salicylate, thymol (from thyme oil), and eucalyptol (liquid derived from eucalyptus oil). It can cause skin irritation and localized allergic reactions.
• Propylene Glycol – is the primary ingredient in antifreeze which can be damaging to your liver and kidneys.

The Dangers of Tattoo Ink

That was just the carriers. What is in each color of ink? Many of these inks have ingredients that you shouldn't apply to the skin, much less inject into the blood rick lower layer of skin. The epidermis is the outer layer of skin that is made up of dead skin cells and acts as a whole body bandage. It protects us from bacteria and viruses. The dermis is the living skin underneath the epidermis. Things injected into the dermis can be carried away by the bloodstream to all parts of the body. That's why we get infections when we have a cut or scrape of our skin. The protective epidermis is damaged.

What is in the ink? Most inks contain acrylic resin (plastic molecules), but they also contain other ingredients. They are listed below by color as per Helmenstine (2017) and my own research.

• Black ink – Iron oxide (rust), charcoal or carbon – this is probably the least dangerous ink. The amount of Iron oxide should be inadequate to cause iron toxicity. Ask the tattoo artist to use purified water as a carrier.
• Blue Ink – Copper, carbonite (azurite), sodium aluminum silicate (lapus lazuli), calcium copper silicate (Egyptian blue), cobalt aluminum oxides and chromium oxides. Copper can lead or contribute to heavy metal poisoning. Aluminum has been proven to attribute to Alzheimer's disease and gastrointestinal disorders.
• Brown ink – Iron oxide and iron ocher clay – this is probably as safe as black ink and for the same reasons.
• Green ink – Chromium oxide and Malachite, lead chromate and the synthetic …