Article Description: A gruesome list of illnesses and health problems contracted by people who have had tattoos or piercings which went wrong was released by the European commission yesterday in an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of body art.
Date of Publication:7/31/2003
Health Risks Warning On Body Art Dyes
Andrew Osborn in Brussels
A gruesome list of illnesses and health problems contracted by people who have had tattoos or piercings which went wrong was released by the European commission yesterday in an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of body art.
Up to half of all body piercings lead to acute infections which require medical treatment, and there have been two piercing-related deaths in Europe this year, the commission said.
It added that precious little was known about the chemical structure and toxicity of many of the dyes used in tattooing and warned that many people were effectively injecting car paint into their skins.
"Except for a limited number of dyes that have been approved for use in cosmetics most chemicals used in tattoos are industrial pigments originally produced for other purposes such as automobile paints or writing inks," it said in a statement. "[They] have little or no safety data to support their use in tattoos. Would you inject car paint into your skin?"
When health standards are disregarded -and it said they often were - people anxious to decorate and personalise their body with dye or metal had paid dearly for bad practices. "These practices can bring about viral infections such as hepatitis, HIV, bacterial and fungal infections, allergic reactions such as skin irritation, and malignant lesions such as melanoma, leprosy and other devastating diseases."
Other problems associated with body art were toxic shock syndrome, tetanus, venereal ulcers, tuberculosis and a host of skin diseases, it added.
"If people want to tattoo or pierce their bodies we would like them to do so with proper health and safety guarantees," said Philippe Busquin, the EU commissioner responsible for the research.
He said existing regulations were limited to hygiene conditions in tattoo and piercing parlours themselves but that, he argued, was not enough.
"[They] are mostly limited to prescribing hygiene practices such as the use of gloves and the sterilisation of needles. (But) they do not tackle the issue of sterility of materials, dyes and colours, their purity or the need for a proper toxicological and risk evaluation."
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003
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