As reported previously, the ongoing evidence of carcinogenic substances found in tattoo inks resulted in NICNAS appointing Queensland Health, Environmental Hazards Unit to investigate this issue with a view of introducing regulation under the Departmental Standards – Tattoo Inks, pursuant to section 233 of Medicines and Poisons Act 2019.  Under this standard, a Compliant Analysis Certificate (CAC) would be required of all users ensuring that the banned substances are not included in their inks or pigments.

After a comprehensive investigation that spanned over two years, APAN put forward a submission for consideration with recommendations that were in line with EU regulations, which came into effect in December 2020. While a regulation did not go through due to opposition by various interest groups, we confirm that presently Queensland Health is conducting in-depth discussions with several leading ink manufacturers in Europe and the US to determine a workable solution on how the requirements of the CAC can be achieved.

At this stage, there are 53 hazardous colourants that have been identified and this would require a high financial investment that manufacturers would need to incur to comply. 

I am happy to report that today, Thursday 26th August APAN had a highly productive meeting with several senior regulators and advisors from the Health Minister’s Office.  Throughout our discussions, we were asked to present the status of the PMU industry and the impact that carcinogenic substances during a tattoo removal process. We also put forward recommendations on how the current challenges could be overcome with several new strategies being identified. 

I can also confirm that the New Zealand Board of Professional Skin Therapies also approached us confirming their support of this initiative, as they wish to engage the NZ Government to implement similar regulations based on the Australian outcome.

The issue of carcinogenic inks and pigments is a serious concern that cannot be ignored, as it will impact not just the consumers but also practitioners and in particular, laser practitioners who perform tattoo removal.  However, APAN has a duty of care to the industry and we are committed to a workable solution that will set the stage for a safer industry in moving forward.

The meeting concluded on a positive note, and it was confirmed by Queensland Health that detailed consultations will continue with the aim of finding a workable solution on how the CAC could be implemented. We were further advised that a regulatory rollout is estimated to be early next year.