The Ban on Color Pigments in France & Beyond
08:45 AM
tattoo inks.jpg
Photo by Edgar Hoill.

Last week, the French association of tattooists, Syndicat National des Artistes Tatoueurs (SNAT), appeared at the French parliament to argue against a recommendation of the French National Agency for the Safety of Health Products that the government ban 59 products used in creating colored tattoo inks -- with the arguable result that many inks would be banned themselves. The SNAT delegation sought to delay the ban. [Their earlier efforts led to a delay until January 1, 2014.]

The debate centers on whether there is enough information to push for a full out ban. The French health agency argues that its recommendation is to protect the public safety. SNAT's arguments include assertions that people will still get tattooed with the banned inks, but it will go underground and unregulated. France 24 News reports more on the debate:

SNAT argues that the measures won't stop people wanting coloured tattoos but will drive them into the arms of "clandestine" tattooists who buy coloured inks on the black market, in particular from those scary Chinese manufacturers.

Tin-Tin, the president of SNAT and the "tattooist to the stars," according to the newspaper Liberation, used the visit to parliament as an opportunity to deliver his message to the media.

"They use this precautionary principle as a stick to beat us while they continue to sell carcinogenic tobacco," said Tin-Tin, whose clients have included John Galliano and Jean-Paul Gaultier. "If this ban goes into force, professional tattooists will be in danger of having to shut their parlours to the benefit of underground tattooists who work at home with no hygienic provisions, who buy ink from China and are never bothered by the authorities."

"No link has been established between tattooing and skin cancer," he said. "These pigments they want to ban are not forbidden anywhere else in Europe."

A petition along with a video on the issue in French was circulated over the past few weeks. The ideal situation would be to hold off on a ban until more studies are done, and a plan on how to protect the public health is devised by health officials as well as the tattooers.

In the US, the FDA has been looking closely at tattoo inks, and even more so last year when a number of tattoo inks were found contaminated, leading to dangerous infections in a number of people.

Personally, I think there should be some regulation, but based on full information and with input from the industry. Many of you have already been sharing your thoughts on the issue in Needles & Sins Facebook group. Feel free to continue the debate!

For further reading,  check the European Congress on Tattoo and Pigment Research (ECTP) in Copenhagen, Denmark. All conference abstracts are available here, including one abstract by Tin Tin.
Thanks to Pat Fish for that link.

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