A Two-Step Pyrolysis-Gas Chromatography Method with Mass Spectrometric Detection for Identification of Tattoo Ink Ingredients and Counterfeit Products.


Department of Chemical and Product Safety, German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR); [Email]


Tattoo inks are complex mixtures of ingredients. Each of them possesses different chemical properties which have to be addressed upon chemical analysis. In this method for two-step pyrolysis online coupled to gas chromatography mass spectrometry (py-GC-MS) volatile compounds are analyzed during a first desorption run. In the second run, the same dried sample is pyrolyzed for analysis of non-volatile compounds such as pigments and polymers. These can be identified by their specific decomposition patterns. Additionally, this method can be used to differentiate original from counterfeit inks. Easy screening methods for data evaluation using the average mass spectra and self-made pyrolysis libraries are applied to speed up substance identification. Using specialized evaluation software for pyrolysis GS-MS data, a fast and reliable comparison of the full chromatogram can be achieved. Since GC-MS is used as separation technique, the method is limited to volatile substances upon desorption and after pyrolysis of the sample. The method can be applied for quick substance screening in market control surveys since it requires no sample preparation steps.

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