Are Tattoos Toxic?

We tend to believe that the Food and Drug Administration is responsible for the safety of everything and anything that goes into our bodies. Truth is, however, that many things slip by them and never make it onto their clipboard until it’s too late. This has certainly been the case for vaping and, it now appears, tattoos.

The truth of the matter is that the FDA has never gotten involved in determining the safety of tattoos and has never approved any ink for injection into the skin.

This is somewhat shocking when you consider that almost 40% of us have tattoos.

Is it possible that tattoos might be toxic?

Studies have shown that many of the colors used in tattooing actually contain heavy metals. Red, for example, often contains mercury, a substance that never leaves the body and continues to build up over the years eventually causing mercury poisoning.

The FDA has recently begun to post fact sheets pointing out the toxicity of inks. The problem isn’t just heavy metals. Many inks contain methanol, formaldehyde, antifreeze, aldehydes and detergents. These are being injected under the skin, finding their way into the bloodstream.

Finally, a recent study found that tattooing might be the most common way that the Hepatitis C virus is transmitted. People with tattoos are the 4 times more likely to report having Hepatitis C than those without tattoos.

Those are some serious considerations if you are thinking about getting a tattoo.

Mercury in CFL Light Bulbs

CFL light bulbs have become common in most houses due in great part to the fact that they use less energy than incandescent light bulbs. Other light  bulbs, such as fluorescent, neon and ultraviolet light bulbs also contain mercury. The problem is that many people still aren’t aware of the fact that they contain mercury and that, if broken, precautions must be taken to protect against that mercury.

Note that the mercury in these light bulbs is not really a health hazard as long as it is contained inside the sealed bulb. If and when the bulb breaks, however, care must be take to make sure that the mercury within is properly disposed of.

Even if the bulb simply burns out without breaking, it must be properly recycled, not simply thrown in the trash. The EPA estimates the some 10 million mercury containing light bulbs are thrown in the trash each year, resulting in about 500 pounds of mercury accumulating in landfills each year. Only 20% of these light bulbs are being properly recycled, the rest are simply tossed out, often breaking in the trash can or on the way to the landfill.

Check your local waste disposal management to find the center nearest you that allows you to drop off these light bulbs. Make a CFL light bulb carrier to make sure that the bulbs don’t get broken on the way to the recycle center.

If a mercury containing light bulb should break, follow these 7 steps to make sure that you clean it up properly and don’t expose yourself or anyone in your home to mercury.

While the small amount of mercury contained in a light bulb doesn’t pose any immediat threat to your health, mercury accumulates in the body over several years and never gets flushed out so the less exposure you have to mercury the better. Treat mercury containing light bulb with extreme care and make sure you clean up any breakage properly to minimize exposure.

Meanwhile, do like I’m doing and slowly replace all your light bulbs with LED lights. LED light bulbs contain no mercury, they are incredibly energy efficient and outlast all other light bulbs (up to 30 years or more). LED lights come in all kinds (cool white, warm white, full spectrum, etc…) as well as in a variety of colors, even with RGB bulbs that can change to whatever color you choose. Check out the selection of LED bulbs at for example. While they are still more expensive than traditional bulbs at this time, the prices are slowly dropping and the fact that they are so much more energy efficient and don’t need to be replaced for 25-30 years means that the investment is worth it… not to mention the peace of mind knowing that you’ll get rid of all that mercury in your home.


New EPA Regulations Will Prove Costly to Dental Offices

A new proposed EPA rule is seeking to regulate the disposal and discharge of dental amalgam. The concern is that dental amalgam (fillings) are made up of of liquid mercury and a powdered alloy composed of silver, tin, and copper. The EPA is trying to make sure that these won’t end up in the publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). The new rule is seeking to make sure that the mercury and the metals are captured and disposed of properly BEFORE it’s washed down the sink and into the POTWs.

Dentists all across the country would have to install a special unit called an amalgam separator to capture and separate these elements.


The American Dental Association (ADA) is, rightly concerned with the cost of these units and the cost of installation for dentists who will need to make the move.

You can read and/or download the new proposed rule, which is still under consideration, at

What isn’t addressed in this proposal is the safety of the doctors and staff at the dental clinics as the breathe in the airborne particles when these filings are removed.

New OSHA Publication Regarding Mercury Exposure and CFL bulbs

New OSHA Publications Regarding Mercury Exposure and CFL Bulbs

With symptoms that include tremors, kidney problems, and damage to unborn children, exposure to mercury can be very dangerous. With this is mind, OSHA has just released two new resources to help prevent and control mercury related injury and illness. We always recommend 10 hour and 30 hour training for all workers on a public job site. Please take the time to read OSHA”s official release below:

WASHINGTON The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued two new educational resources to help protect workers from mercury exposure while crushing and recycling fluorescent bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs are more efficient than incandescent bulbs, but the shift to energy-saving fluorescents, which contain mercury, calls for more attention to workers who handle, dispose of, and recycle used fluorescent bulbs.

The OSHA fact sheet* explains how workers may be exposed, what kinds of engineering controls and personal protective equipment they need, and how to use these controls and equipment properly. In addition, a new OSHA Quick Card* alerts employers and workers to the hazards of mercury and provides information on how to properly clean up accidentally broken fluorescent bulbs to minimize workers’ exposures to mercury.

Fluorescent bulbs can release mercury and may expose workers when they are broken accidentally or crushed as part of the routine disposal or recycling process. Depending on the duration and level of exposure, mercury can cause nervous system disorders such as tremors, kidney problems, and damage to unborn children.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

Information from OSHA

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald Safety and Security Manager for Plateau (

Protecting Dentists from the Mercury in the Filings that they Remove

The past couple of decades have slowly made us aware of the dangers of mercury poisoning. Mercury thermometers are no longer available and what little mercury is still being used out there is being carefully monitored and safely handled. Mercury spill kits are available for the safe handling of mercury in the events of a spill.

In the world of dentistry, however, mercury continues to pose a problem because mercury was an essential component of Amalgam fillings for years. While there is still a lot of debate over leeching of these filings and how much of a health threat they might pose, there is no question that when dentist remove these filings the mercury is being released into the air and onto the utensils and equipment of the dentist.

Protecting the patient against this mercury is important, of course, but the patient’s exposure is extremely limited and temporary. For the dentists and their assistants, however, the exposure is repeated and prolonged, depending on how many filings a dentist might have to remove and replace. The amount of mercury being released might be small but, as we have learned, mercury accumulates in the body so that repeated exposure to even tiny amounts can add up over time to result in serious health issues.

On a recent trip to my dentist for a cleaning, the question came up and I had to tell my dentist that I really didn’t know much about what type of respirator and Personal Protective Equipment might be needed to deal with this potential health threat. I promised him that I would look into it and get back to him.

What I found was a great article available as a download in pdf format posted on the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) website. The article entitled “Safe Removal of Amalgam Fillings” and available for download here recommends a half mask respirator with a P100 filter, the standard Filtering Facepiece masks most often used by dentists simply isn’t enough protection. Additionally, nitrile gloves are recommended as latex and vinyl glove are not adequate.

I made sure I downloaded the article and printed it out for my dentist because I want to make sure he stays around. How he’s going to wear a half mask without scaring his patients is another matter!