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Questions and answers on the study lead of BfR investigating the distribution of tattoo ink as nano-sized particles in lymph nodes

BfR FAQ, 12 October 2017

Scientists of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) proved in the course of an international research project that nanometric pigments from tattoo inks can permanently accumulate in lymph nodes. The study has been published in the Scientific Reports magazine of the Nature Publishing Group on 12 September 2017 (

By using X-rays from the particle accelerator in Grenoble (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, ESRF) during the investigations it has been found out where the pigments accumulate in the tissue. Until now, the accumulation of pigments from tattooed persons has been known by optical colouring of the lymph nodes only, as they often had been of the same colour as the tattoo as such. Both skin and lymph nodes have now been characterized in terms of their chemical composition, pigment identity and size.

In the following, the BfR compiled frequently asked questions and answers on the study.



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