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Watchdog to check Finnish tattoo ink for carcinogens after Swedish scare

Tattoo ink is under the spotlight in Finland after authorities in Sweden found a third of tattoo inks they checked contained cancer-causing chemicals.

Väripulloja tatuointistudiolla Porissa.
Tattoo inks are to be tested by Tukes. Image: Rami Koivula / Yle
Yle News

The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency, Tukes, says it will investigate tattoo inks used in Finland to determine whether they contain similar levels of dangerous chemicals to those in Sweden.

Officials in Sweden looked at 34 different tattoo inks, and found that a third of them contained the CMR carcinogen. Bans were introduced for twelve products following the probe.

“The project came about because you can’t sell anything containing CMR chemicals direct to consumers, but it is known that tattoo inks can contain those substances,” said Anna Vuori of Tukes on Yle’s Radio Suomi.

Hannu Kiviranta told Radio Suomi that he had wondered for years why tattoo inks are more loosely regulated than cosmetics.

Vuori said that the plan is to buy tattoo inks and send them to the lab for testing, as the products are currently unfamiliar to regulators. Products could then be removed from the market, if problems are discovered.

The EU is in the process of writing new regulations on tattoo inks, due to be voted on by member states next year. The EU's chemicals regulator, which is based in Helsinki, has proposed restrictions on the use of some 4,000 chemicals in tattoo inks.

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