Though tattoos have long since become a big part of our culture, there still remains a lot of controversy over the safety of them. Outside of the obvious risks (although slim) of things like Hepatitis B, the heavy metals used to make ink “permanent” continue to raise concern. No matter what side of the fence you’re on in terms of the safety of tattoos, we can all agree that heavy metal toxicity is no laughing matter and the damage done to the human body from metal exposure is often irreversible.
While much of the world battles to reduce heavy metal exposure, the tattoo business continues to soar as people long to leave their mark for the world to see and, although hygiene is a serious consideration for all; most people don’t thinking twice about “a little bit of heavy metal” exposure in the name of artistic expression.
Helen Suh MacIntosh, a professor in environmental health at Harvard University and a columnist for the website, Treehugger, reports that as a result of a 2007 lawsuit brought by the American Environmental Safety Institute (AESI), two of the leading tattoo ink manufacturers must now place warning labels on their product containers, catalogs and websites explaining that “inks contain many heavy metals, including lead, arsenic and others” and that the ingredients have been linked to cancer and birth defects.
Though warning labels on ink products now claim that the heavy metals contained in the ink HAVE BEEN LINKED to cancer and birth defects, The American Pregnancy Association writes this:
Little information is available about the safety of skin dyes used for tattooing during pregnancy. It is possible that the chemicals in the dye may affect the development of the baby during the first 12 weeks
It IS your body and you CAN DO with it whatever you want to do with it. You can tattoo yourself from one end of your body to the next and you can look like a walking Picasso if that’s your desire. Just keep in mind that everything that YOU are exposed to, your unborn child is exposed to also. If you can rationalize introducing your child to heavy metal exposure under the guise of “art”, go for it! Just be aware that the price you pay for artistic expression could ultimately end up costing you and your child a whole lot more in the long run.
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