Is Ballpoint Pen Ink Toxic?

Parents have so many things to worry about in terms of what may or may not be toxic to their children. One of the main areas of focus seems to be on ink poisoning. Just about every child, at one point or another, has come home with ink covering at least one part of his or her body. Most of the time he/she is scolded and warned of the possibility of ink poisoning. However, how much truth is there to this warning? Let us examine at least one type of ink. Because ballpoint pens are so popular with kids and come in such a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors, they have led to the most the fear for parents. Children think nothing of tattooing themselves with ballpoint pens but are they putting themselves at risk? Some of the following information may help parents who have been struggling with the idea that their children could be poisoned by marking themselves up with ballpoint pen.

Is the Ink Used in Ballpoint Pens Toxic?

Good news parents! No it is not toxic. This is mainly because the content and manufacturing of pens of all kinds are regulated in almost all countries. There are of course many other types of inks that are toxic but luckily for parents, ballpoint ink is not one of them. In the decades past parents had a real concern when they would spot ink on their children’s skin. This is because there were not as many guidelines back then as there are today. There is a much higher level of caution in terms of products that our children are exposed to now than there ever was before. For this reason, many of the things that may have been deemed unsafe in the past have been greatly improved, using substances that are non-toxic. Ball point pen ink is just one of those things.

Ink Poisoning in General – Which Inks to Worry About

Toxic ingredients that are found in pens are a mixture of solvents, dyes and other chemicals. Most of the time these toxic ingredients are found in bottled ink and older brands of ink pens. With this being said, it is important to point out that even the most toxic inks must be ingested in quite large amounts before any serious poisoning will occur. If toxic ink is used on the skin the best thing to do is wash the skin immediately and try and remove as much of the ink as possible. Symptoms of ink poisoning include eye and skin irritation. If you suspect that your child has ingested more than an ounce of toxic ink, it is suggested that you seek medical attention right away. Do not induce vomiting or attempt to take matters into your own hands. Ink poisoning is very rare and is not seem to be a major concern. However, if you are worried, the best thing you can do is research any product before allowing your child to use it. In addition, keep anything you know to be toxic out of the reach of your children.

Ball Point Ink Accidents – The Real Concern

Along with the popularity of ballpoint pens, comes the occasion for accidents and spills. In fact, this seems to be a much greater concern than ink poisoning when it comes to the use of ballpoint pens. The very first thing that should be done if there is a spill and ballpoint ink should leak onto some sort of fabric is that the spreading should be stopped immediately. By using a solution that is made up of 50% ammonia and 50% hydrogen peroxide, you can stop the spread of ballpoint ink dead in its tracks. Once you have successfully contained the ink and stopped the spreading, then you can use some sort of stain remover or solvent to get rid of the stain. In addition, now that you have applied the ammonia peroxide mixture, you will not have to worry about rubbing the solution into the stain. The best substance for removing ballpoint pen inks seems to be rubbing alcohol.

Reasons to Discourage Self Tattooing With Ball Point Ink

With all of the things parents have on their plate, we can safely assume that ink poisoning concern can be placed in a box and labeled a thing of the past. While it is true that writing on oneself or tattooing skin with the ink of a pen is not the smartest thing to do, it is highly doubtful that it will cause any major problems. However, because of the staining properties of ink and how easily it can transfer from skin to well-being or other fabric, it should still be discouraged strongly. Ballpoint ink, though not toxic, can also be a nightmare to remove from your child’s skin. This is as good a reason as any to forbid your child from marking him or herself up with any kind of ink.

If you have a child who likes to express him or herself creatively, there are many products on the market that are made specifically for this purpose. Try purchasing some temporary tattoos or body paint and urging your child to use those products as an alternative to markers and pens. In addition, you may also buy your children art kits in an effort to encourage artistic imagination with out all of the mess involved with self tattooing.

Comments 14
  1. It is excellent quality report. Could you help me by sending data about 'the hazards of using chemical scents in ball point pen refills/inks'.

  2. I am doing research for my child care certification classes. This was very helpful. Thank you! 🙂

  3. Where is the substance;
    Components names in inks
    Facts and research paper
    Quantitative and qualitative numbers of amount of ink that gets through skin and into blood stream
    Research on effects on different ages of children

    I have a childcare work who loves drawing on my 4 year olds hands.

    I want to read facts and figures not opinions.

    Thank you for chance to voice my concerns!

  4. Thank you for the article. I have found similar information in various other places, so I do think this is good information.

  5. This good for me. Because it helped me in the speech that I am doing on poisoning.

    Thank you so much… 😄

  6. Thank you for this info! I draw on myself for coping reasons and I think it looks cool. I usually use sharpies or pens. Glad to know that pens are safe to use!

    1. I thought this was great. I too draw on myself with pens and was wondering a lot of the stuff this article covered. However, I was wondering how long the ink from a regular ballpoint pen lasts? Does anyone have the answer? Anyway, thanks for the information!

  7. Willow, I also like drawing on my hands (right now my left hand is covered in Serpinski’s triangles) but I looked at some more stuff, and maybe most permanent markers aren’t the safest thing to use. I’m pretty sure everything else is fine, but it could be an idea to stay away from the sharpies.

  8. In addition to there being no cited sources, why does a .org website have so many writing errors? Lots of poor writing these days in articles, even those that seem to claim any kind of authority on a matter.

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