Fourteen tattoo inks a...
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Fourteen tattoo inks analysed

12 June 2012

The Swedish Chemicals Agency (KemI) has had fourteen tattoo inks of six different brands analysed by the Intertek Laboratory in Germany. The inks were purchased from three different online shopping sites in December 2011.

The analysis was made to check a number of harmful substances, which were the same substances as in a previous analysis ordered by KemI. 

The analyses were based on recommendations of the Council of Europe, although these are not mandatory for Sweden.

The results of the analysis showed that:

  • One of the inks contained the aromatic amine, o-anisidine, which should not be included in tattoo inks according to the recommendations of the Council of Europe.
  • In eight of the inks a concentration of between 0 and 34 ppm of aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) was detected. The recommended threshold limit is 0.5 ppm.
  • One of the inks contained too high contents of barium according to the Council of Europe recommendation, two of the inks had too high contents of copper and two inks too high lead content. In addition, nickel, zinc and chromium were found in a few tattoo inks.
  • Arsenic, selenium, antimony, cadmium, cobalt, mercury, tin and strontium were not detected in any of the inks.


The analyses were made on a small selection of tattoo inks available on the Swedish market and it is therefore not possible to know if the results are representative.

Regulations on tattoo inks

In November 2011, the Swedish Government stated that Sweden would introduce a ban on hazardous chemicals in tattoo inks and work on new rules is in progress. The Swedish Medical Products Agency will be responsible for monitoring compliance.