CHEMICALS used in tattoo inks could be banned amid fears they cause cancer, it's emerged.

The EU is set to restrict certain ingredients, which could also harm fertility and alter DNA.'

The European Chemicals Agency reported last year that it was “well known that tattoo inks can and do contain substances of concern such as identified carcinogens and skin sensitisers”.

But no direct link has been made between tattoos and the development of cancer.

Mark Blainey, from the ECHA, said: “The composition of some tattoo inks and permanent makeup raises concerns for public health.

“The most severe concerns are allergies caused by the substances in the inks and the fact that some of the substances might cause cancer, change DNA or be harmful to human reproduction.”

The ECHA’s report found a particular link between red ink and dermatitis, due to the product’s high content of mercury sulphide.

Red, blue, green and purple inks were said to be more likely to cause small ridges in the skin called granulomas.

Medical journal BMJ Case Reports warned in June that people with weakened immune systems are at particular risk from tattoos.

The report suggested these patients, including organ donors, should be warned of the dangers.

Recent surveys suggest as many a third of 25 to 39-year-olds in the UK have tattoos.

Public Health England says inks must be sterile and not react with the body.

But there are no common standards despite fears some inks contain dangerous ingredients.

EU member states are expected to vote on a proposal banning 4,000 chemicals next year.

The UK will not have a say because we will leave in March.

But the law would still apply during the 21-month Brexit transition period.

It could be dropped by politicians in Westminster at a later date.

Gareth Thomas, a Labour MP and former minister, said he expected UK to remain in line with the EU’s proposed regulations.

He said: “It is difficult to believe the government aren’t committed to putting in place clear standards to stop the use of chemicals that could cause cancer in tattoo parlours up and down the country.

“With tattoo parlours in ever-increasing demand, British consumers shouldn’t have to rely on the EU to protect them – their own government ought to be able to protect them, too.”

The ECHA said tattoo artists should be able to provide information on the inks used, including where they were sourced from.

Those thinking of getting a tattoo should research the inks that will be used beforehand, the agency added.