Tattoo fans outraged as EU set to outlaw coloured ink in 2022 over cancer fears

From January 4 onwards, tattoo artists in the EU will not be allowed to use coloured ink.

The European Union's Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) organisation has outlawed around 4,000 chemicals typically found in coloured tattoo ink.

The ban is set to come into effect on January 4, with Metro reporting that the regulatory body has said the chemicals in the ink can cause "cancer or genetic mutations".

Some of the chemicals have already been banned from being applied on top of skin, and REACH are keen to make sure those same chemicals aren't tattooed into the skin either.

Although the chemicals were outlawed in January last year, ink manufacturers were given a year-long grace period to find safer formulations to create coloured inks.

The grace period expires on January 4, and many tattoo artists say that progress on creating new supplies has been slow, leaving them unsure whether they will have to turn away potential clients looking for colour tattoos.

Outcry over the imminent loss of popular colours Pigment Blue 15:3 and Pigment Green 7 has led REACH to give manufacturers until January 4, 2023 to find replacements for that pair of inks.

REACH insists "the aim is not to ban tattooing but to make the colours used in tattoos and permanent make-up safer".

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Tattoo artists in the EU have voiced concerns that a ban on coloured inks will harm their businesses without actually stopping people from coming into contact with potentially harmful chemicals.

REACH has been warned that a ban coming into effect before ink manufacturers have found safe alternatives is liable to lead to people who want colours in their tattoos going to "backyard artists" who provide their services illegally.

The regulatory body hopes manufacturers will develop safer alternatives in their product range before that happens.

Scientists have not reached a consensus on the link between the chemicals contained in coloured tattoo ink and cancer, though some chemicals in the inks have been proven to be carcinogenic which means they can cause cancer.

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