Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a warning that certain tattoo inks may contain microorganisms that are harmful to humans. They came to this conclusion as a result of their routine inspections of facilities that manufacture, or distribute, the inks. So far, they've identified six different inks, from four different companies that are part of an ongoing investigation.

The microorganisms in the ink can cause a variety of symptoms. Especially since the bacteria has the most direct pathway into your body possible... through your skin and right into your blood. According to the FDA, some of these symptoms can include:

...appearance of rashes or lesions consisting of red papules in areas where the contaminated ink has been applied. Some tattoo infections can result in permanent scarring. Indications of an infection can be difficult to recognize as other conditions (e.g., allergic reactions) may initially have similar signs and symptoms, leading to misdiagnosis and ineffective treatments.

In the time that I've lived in Bangor, I've had work done at a couple of the local shops. I found them to be run by intelligent, upstanding folks who care about their customers, as well as their business practices. I imagine local tattoo artists have been made aware of this, and likely either remedied the situation, or it wasn't an issue to begin with. That said, it's probably a good idea to ask about the inks in question, just to double check your own safety.

Here are the inks in question, according to the FDA:

  • Scalpaink SC, Scalpaink PA, and Scalpaink AL basic black tattoo inks manufactured by Scalp Aesthetics (all lots)
  • Dynamic Color - Black tattoo ink manufactured by Dynamic Color Inc  (lots 12024090 and 12026090)
  • Solid Ink-Diablo (red) tattoo ink manufactured by Color Art Inc. (dba Solid Ink) (dba Antone's Ink) (lot 10.19.18)

If you're into tattoos at all, this is kind of a big deal. So, definitely get informed. Even if you have to write down, or print off the questionable inks, it's turbo-important that you do. It's not worth risking your health over.

Any shopkeeper worth their salt, won't be offended that you ask. If anything, they should be impressed with your desire to keep both of you safe. And if all the lights are green, happy inking!