Tattoo Ink Nanoparticles Persist in Lymph Nodes

Toxins in tattoos may stay in your body for life new research suggests

Toxins in tattoos may stay in your body for life new research suggests

Scientists have discovered that micro and nanoparticles from tattoos can travel inside the body and reach the lymph nodes.

Toxic nanoparticles in tattoo ink don't stay put in the skin; they travel around the body and build up in the lymph nodes, scientists have found.

Tattoo colouring is composed of various organic and inorganic pigments, and can be contaminated with toxic impurities.

"When someone wants to get a tattoo, they are often very careful in choosing a parlour where they use sterile needles that haven´t been used previously".

TIO2 is a white pigment applied to create certain shades when it is mixed with colorants. The second most common ingredient used in tattoo ink is titanium dioxide, or TIO2, behind the most common ingredient, carbon black.

"No one checks the chemical composition of the colours, but our study shows that maybe they should". TiO2 is also commonly used in food additives, sun screens, paints.

The body tries to "clean" the site of the tattoo, removing nanoparticles of the ink via the immune system.

"We already knew that pigments from tattoos would travel to the lymph nodes because of visual evidence: the lymph nodes become tinted with the color of the tattoo", Bernhard Hesse, ESRF visiting scientist, said. What we didn't know is that they do it in a nano form, which implies that they may not have the same behavior as the particles at a micro level.

The researchers used powerful X-rays to identify titanium dioxide and heavy metals present in tattooed skin and lymph node tissue samples.

They found a range of particle sizes in the skin-up to several micrometers in diameter-but only nano-size particles in the lymph nodes.

Tattoos release microscopic pigment particles that lodge in the lymph nodes, posing a potential health risk, research has shown.

Altogether the scientists report strong evidence for both migration and long-term deposition of toxic elements and tattoo pigments as well as for conformational alterations of biomolecules that are sometimes linked to cutaneous inflammation and other adversities upon tattooing.

This is a problem, the scientists say, because the properties and reactivity of many of these nanoparticles is very poorly understood.

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