‘Outbreak’ of Bacterial Infection from Tainted Tattoo Ink

Contaminated ink has instigated a number of bacterial infections of the skin in and around the location of tattoos.

According to a research study published in the New England Journal of Medicine[1. http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa1205114], a certain type of tattoo ink was found to contain nontuberculous mycobacterium chelonae, bacteria the study describes as “atypical” and “uncommon.” The bacteria caused a bumpy red rash at the site of the tattoo design within three weeks of getting the tattoo, affecting people from 18 to 48 years old.

The specific ink, known as gray wash, is diluted with water to provide shading or a three-dimensional feel to tattoo designs. Gray wash can be diluted to varying degrees, but the real issue is how it is diluted.

These bacterial infections were not due to a contaminated environment, as the tattoo parlor passed all health inspections. Rather, the ink manufacturer diluted the gray wash with unsterile water prior to distributing the ink, according to the study.

“Premixed ink contaminated before distribution poses a risk to public health, which may suggest the need for enhanced oversight of not just tattooing, but also the inks used in tattooing,” the study said.

Unfiltered tap water contains trace amounts of poisonous chemicals and substances that can cause harm at the cellular level.

Though legally deemed safe to drink, tap water still directly contributes to an elevated level of toxicity in the human body. Filtered, boiled and triple-distilled water are always the safest options.

The Arizona-based manufacturer voluntarily recalled the ink upon hearing of the outbreak, but this is not the first instance of such a rash of infections.

Since 2003, a number of studies have linked tainted ink to tattoo-related skin infections. Unsterilized water (used for dilution) was commonly the source of tattoo ink contamination. This recent study was the first to test opened bottles of ink along with unopened bottles to help determine the cause of the contamination. Often, these infections have resulted from bacteria closely related to M. cholenae, the specific bacteria found in the current study.

Somehow, these “outbreaks” of infection do not affect everyone exposed to the contaminated substance. This tattoo artist intermittently used the toxic gray wash for more than three months, yet only a handful of clients became infected.  Why does one person get infected while the next two people exposed to the same toxin do not?

The answer: Those with stronger immune systems and better functioning bodies overall are able to resist. You don’t “catch” disease or infection because it happens to be nearby. Healthy, high-functioning bodies resist infection, stave off disease and tend to stay well—even when painted with tainted ink.

Not sure what toxicity is or how abundant toxins are?  Want to maximized your immunity, get well and stay well?  Ask your nearest Maximized Living doctor for more information. Maximized Living doctors are experts in the field of commonly found environmental and household toxins.