General Question

Trance24's avatar

Can you really get ink poisoning from writing on your hand?

Asked by Trance24 (3306points) December 2nd, 2008

OK my grandpa gets really pissed off when I write on my hand. But I can’t write crap on paper cause then I’ll never look at it. He says that I’m going to get ink poisoning , and I mean like yells at me when I have it on my hand. Is this true am I really going to get ink poisoning? Just by writing on my hand every once in a while? What are your opinions and facts. Can you please provide and links if possible. I am trying to get the facts to show him/ me if I am wrong.

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27 Answers

asmonet's avatar

No. Just double-checked. Apparently if you ingest more than an ounce you’re not gonna feel so good, and you’re not emptying sharpies on your body so you’re good to go.

jtvoar16's avatar

I used to draw with ball-point pens, up and down my entire arm, every day during school. I did this for 3 years, every day, no joke, and if I do have problems, I have not noticed them. Your safe as long as you don’t:
A) Write on your eyeball, your tung, or your heart.
B) Stab the pen directly into your heart\nipple, or genitals.
C) Drink of vat of Sharpie©

asmonet's avatar

lol, tung.
lol, singular nipple.

augustlan's avatar

So regular ink is ok, but is it ok to write on yourself in sharpie? That’s what my kids do, and I always thought it was fine, but now I’m wondering…

asmonet's avatar

@augustlan: Sharpie’s are not non-toxic, therefore, I wouldn’t recommend it. I used to do it in high school occasionally when I was bored I’d cover my arms in really curly medieval fonts and flowers but that was pretty rare. I’m sure it’s fine once in a while. But yeah, have them switch mediums. That’s what I would do.

augustlan's avatar

Oh, man. Thank you.

Trance24's avatar

@Asmonet Can I have a link to some supporting evidence please?

asmonet's avatar

@Trance24: I just whipped out my sharpie’s and checked the packaging – it has nothing stating it is non-toxic anywhere on the pens, markers or packaging, I guess I could google it for you.

From Wikipedia:
There are no warning labels on Sharpie markers. However, they bear the new AP (Approved Product) certification symbol of The Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI). According to the organization:

“The new AP (Approved Product) Seal, with or without Performance Certification, identifies art materials that are safe and that are certified in a toxicological evaluation by a medical expert to contain no materials in sufficient quantities to be toxic or injurious to humans, including children, or to cause acute or chronic health problems. This seal is currently replacing the previous non-toxic seals: CP (Certified Product), AP (Approved Product), and HL Health Label (Non-Toxic) over a 10-year phase-in period. Such products are certified by ACMI to be labeled in accordance with the chronic hazard labeling standard, ASTM D 4236, and the U. S. Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act (LHAMA).”

They are considered non-toxic for “normal uses,” meaning writing on posters, soccer balls, and such. However, they are not meant for use on skin or fingernails. It might take over an ounce of ink from a Sharpie to cause a lethal reaction, and if a Sharpie is used on the skin it generally won’t cause an immediate or obvious health effect. However, according to the manufacturer’s safety data sheets (MSDS), various Sharpies contain: n-propanol, n-butanol, diacetone alcohol, and cresol. The first of these, n-propanol, is commonly used in cosmetics. The other three, however, are industrial solvents, chemicals that should not be sniffed, eaten, or put on the skin. As solvents they penetrate the skin and fingernails, and do enter the bloodstream.

Magnum Sharpie, King Size Sharpie, and Touch-up Sharpie products contain xylene. The Magnum and King Size Sharpies also contain cresol. However, all other products in the Sharpie line do not contain either of these chemicals, and are considered safe under normal use conditions.

These chemicals are not tested for human consumption, only incidental environmental exposure. So the chemical manufacturers’ technical data sheets on these chemicals are ambiguous with respect to how much should be considered a hazardous dosage, but do warn of kidney, liver, and brain damage, other nervous disorders, and DNA effects resulting in birth defects. OSHA has set permissible exposure limits (PEL) at 100ppm for n-butanol, 50ppm for diacetone alcohol, and 5ppm for cresol.


asmonet's avatar

I guess to answer the original question, it’s a bad idea. Depending on the marker or pen you’re using it can have various levels of danger. I would just stop and be on the safe side.

augustlan's avatar

Double oh, man.

madcapper's avatar


asmonet's avatar

Sorry, Aug. I hope your childrens don’t have the damaged braaaaains.

@mad: Srsly.

augustlan's avatar

@as: Sometimes it’s hard to tell ~

tiggersmom's avatar

Back a lot of years ago, they use to use lead in ink and in pencils. That was how you got ink poisoning, since then, they don’t use lead in it anymore. They use earth friendly and human friendly things in there now. Good luck getting Grandpa to change his mind, cause one set in their ways, your elders do not like change. They much prefer the old ways. Hope this helps.

mrdh's avatar

I write on myself often, but not with a Sharpie or any other type of permanent marker, they’re usually more toxic.

jtvoar16's avatar

Regular Bic© Pens are fine. They are made of ground beetle carapice, water, and (basically) food coloring. So, if you are allergic to cockroaches, water, or food coloring, I would avoid writing on yourself.
However, I know from experience (using Sharpies as makeshift temporary tattoos) you can get pretty messed up with those, if you go over board. One night my friends thought I was on drugs because I drew Yakuza Tattoos on my chest and back (full sized) in Sharpie’s (Both thick tip and fine tipped) and I was messed up. I felt like I was drunk, but I was acting like I just shoot Cocaine into my foot.
But I don’t consider Sharpies as “Pens.” They are more like “Markers” to me. Most markers have all sorts of strange things in them, things I would hate to put under my skin.
But tiggersmom was right. In the past Lead was all the rage, and caused many incidents of rage. I mean look at the Mad Hatter!

Trance24's avatar

Well I never use sharpies in the first place, so im in the clear there.

xXMetalJunkieXx's avatar

Actually I just happened to have a Sharpie sitting next to me when I began to read some of the posts debating wether if Sharpies are toxic or not. Most of these posts have said that there is no indication saying if there are or not but in fact there is one. If you look right under the AP logo next to where it says fine point or whatever there it is in small writing, it will say non-toxic. Don’t believe me? Than take a look for yourself. Take the Sharpie (and I am only talking about regular Sharpie markers for that is all I have at this time) and hold it so the closed pen cap is in your left hand. Than look for the AP logo next to fine point. When you find that logo, look directly under it and you will find that in fact it does say that the Sharpie is non-toxic.

emilyrosep's avatar

i write on myself just about every day with sharpie and have been doing for years, sometimes just notes, but a lot of times huge intricate things, i want to be a tattoo artist. as far as i can tell theres nothing wrong with me i <3 sharpie tattoos

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
elizabethswanson's avatar

They say that you cant get poisoned by ink unless its toxic.Most ink is non_toxic, but, if you consume more than an ounce you could get poisoned, an ounce with ink is a couple pens worth, dont worry your ok, check it out wiki answers!!!

dublekid4's avatar

ive been covering my arms in sharpie for two years straight. at least 4 times a week. CRAP.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
Response moderated (Writing Standards)
Response moderated (Writing Standards)
Babbers's avatar

@metaljunkie – your sharpie must be old or from a reseller for resellers type store (big lots) because they’ve not been labeled “non-toxic” with those exact words for years. They are non-toxic, yes, but now that fact is indicated by the AP logo alone. When the new AP logo was created for these kinds of products it was phased in to replace “non-toxic” as a label. The “phasing in” began by printing the new label with the words “non-toxic” so that the public had an opportunity to associate the AP logo with safety. Eventually, the “non-toxic” was dropped. This was all part of a deliberate shift in different regulatory groups. Any sharpie that says “non-toxic” on the barrel is at least 5 years old.

Mpf13's avatar

My teacher does the same thing and yelled at me. I came home and showed my mom, ignoring what he said, and showed her my pen tattoos. My mom’s a nurse and all she said was to wash it off before I go to sleep because she didn’t want it to stain the couch I was sleeping on since my room was being painted. I’m going to continue drawing on myself because he already annoys me so I don’t really care.

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