Body Art Program: Before You Get Inked, Read This!

Know the safety facts before you get inked.

Know the safety facts before you get inked.

Tattoos and the artists that create them have been growing in popularity for some time. About 29% of Americans have at least one tattoo according to a recent Harris poll. That number increases to 47% if you’re only talking about millennials, or those aged 18-35; also an age group more likely to have more than one tattoo. Tattoos are so popular that the Cow Palace will host its annual Body Art Expo this weekend that will be dedicated to tattoo contests, exhibits, and of course, getting tattooed.

With tattooing becoming more mainstream, it’s important for those that want one to do their homework and get educated on important disease prevention precaution steps and the laws created to ensure these steps are followed in the tattoo/body art industry.

In 2005 San Mateo County enacted a body art ordinance to ensure that all registered body artist facilities and artists operating within the County are tattooing safely. The ordinance establishes standards for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of body art establishments to help prevent the transmission of disease and protect consumer safety.

In 2013, the State of California saw the need for body art safety and enacted a similar law – the California Safe Body Art Act. The state law makes it easier for body art practitioners to tattoo outside of the county they are registered in with limited benefits in other jurisdictions.

Some of the standards include requiring body art practitioners to be at least 18 years of age, have a valid Blood Borne Pathogen Exposure Training Certificate, and only practice within a permitted facility. Currently, there over 30 active and licensed body art facilities and over hundred registered practitioners in San Mateo County.

While San Mateo County Environmental Health Services and the State of California have taken steps to ensure your tattoo experience is safe, it’s important to remember that you play a big role in making sure you stay safe too!

Remember to follow these tips the next time you head out to get “inked.”

  • Make sure the body art facility is licensed in California.
  • Make sure the tattoo artist is registered in California.
  • Ask the tattoo artist to wash their hands and open tools in front of you.

Learn more about San Mateo County’s Body Art Program by going here: smchealth.org/bodyart

Happy Inking!

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