INSET: A man receives a colorful tattoo at a tattoo art fest in Paris (Flickr photo by Philleppe Leroyer)

Tattoos really are more than skin deep and that raises questions about their safety.

Many people enjoy the aesthetic beauty of tattoos. But the brightly colored inks that make tattoos so vibrant and striking also carry health concerns, report authors of a new paper related to tattoo safety.

According to the Pew Research Center, 45 million Americans have at least one tattoo; roughly $1.65 billion is spent on tattoos each year in the U.S.

Little is known, however about the safety and long-term effects of the inks used to create tattoos.

“Tattooing is perhaps the largest ongoing human experiment on the injection of particles and pigments with a complex chemistry into the skin,” said Lars Krutak, research associate in the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Krutak is co-author of a paper in the The Lancet based on a conference on tattoo safety held in Berlin in 2013 by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment.


To read the Smithsonian article, please click HERE!