Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tonga

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Another invitation to promiscuity

Remember Dr. Janet Woodcock, deputy operations commissioner of the FDA, who was ordered to give a deposition on her objection to the emergency contraception, "Plan B"? Dr. Woodcock refused to approve over-the-counter access to Plan B because of her concerns that teenagers would become promiscuous and form sex-based cults?

Who knew that the FDA has no standards for the safety of dyes used in body art-- that is, tattoos? It's about time to get some standards, Dr. Woodcock, because impermanent tattoos might lead to promiscuity.

Tattoos made of 'disappearing' ink

27 April 2006

From New Scientist Print Edition.

IF YOU are planning to express your undying love for someone with a tattoo, you might want to wait a little while before going under the needle. New inks that are safer to use, and far easier to remove should you have a change of heart, are set to be launched next year.

The US Food and Drug Administration has no standards for the safety of dyes used in body art. Carbon black, metal salts and other compounds more commonly used in printing or car paint are among those used. Heavy metals and other toxic chemicals in these pigments can seep into the lymph system, says Martin Schmieg, president of the company Freedom-2 in Philadelphia, which is planning to introduce a range of dyes that have already been approved by the FDA for use in cosmetics, food, drugs and medical devices.

Such dyes have not been used in tattoos before as they are readily absorbed by the body. To get round this problem, Rox Anderson at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston has developed a way to encapsulate the dyes in protective polymer beads just 1 to 3 micrometres in diameter. This is small enough to allow them to be injected into the skin and absorbed by skin cells to form a tattoo.

The pigment can be removed with a single laser treatment. This splits the beads open, dumping the dye into cells where it is absorbed. The tattoo then quickly fades away, in stark contrast to standard tattoo pigments. Applying a series of up to 10 laser treatments can usually bleach them, but only half of tattoos can be completely removed.

(From issue 2549 of New Scientist magazine, 27 April 2006, page 25)