Tattoo ink health fears could lead to EU restrictions

The EU is looking at the safety of tattoo ink (John Stillwell/ PA) Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The European Union could restrict the chemicals used in tattoo inks over fears some may pose a risk to health.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is assessing the possible dangers of substances used to create body art, and whether EU-wide legislation is needed to ensure their safety.

It said the "the most severe concerns" relate to allergies and the possibility that chemicals could cause cancer.

The European Chemicals Agency said the inks 'can possibly cause cancer.' Credit: PA

No link has been proven between tattoos and the development of cancer.

EU member states are expected to vote on whether to impose limits on around 4,000 chemicals next year, after the UK is due to leave the union.

Mark Blainey, senior scientific officer, said: "The composition of some tattoo inks and permanent make-up raises concerns for public health.

"The most severe concerns are allergies caused by the substances in the inks and that they can possibly cause cancer, DNA damage or effects on reproduction.”

He added: "We are not looking to ban tattooing but to make sure when people get a tattoo that the inks are as safe as possible."

No link has been proven between tattoos and the development of cancer. Credit: PA

Around 12% of Europeans have tattoos, but there is no "harmonised process" across the continent to assess ink safety, the ECHA said.

In October, the agency concluded restrictions on chemicals were needed and a formal opinion is due to be sent to the European Commission later this year.

The ECHA said tattoo artists should be able to provide information on the inks used, including where they were sourced.

Those thinking of getting a tattoo should research beforehand of the inks that will be used, the agency added.