Many people sport tattoos: one source estimates that 120+ million people in the Western Hemisphere have at least one tattoo. However, concerns have arisen about the medical effects of tattoo ink.
Short-term effects of tattooing can include: pain; bleeding; bacterial infection; and allergic reaction to the ink. Long-term effects of tattooing are tougher to gauge: cadavers of folks who had tattoos for many years show as much as 90% of the ink is gone from their skin, so we know the ink goes somewhere. Is it excreted or does it build up in blood vessels, nerves, tissues and organs? That’s an important question because inks are injected into the body and can contain preservatives and contaminants. Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the power to regulate but leaves that task to the states, which have widely varying requirements.
How do you increase your chances of sporting your tattoo for a long life? California makes it easier than do some other states.
First, check whether a tattoo parlor is registered with local authorities, which is required in California.
Second, check the background of the tattoo parlor. One that violates California’s laws on registration, Hepatitis B vaccination/documentation, facilities and supplies has 15 days to comply and is sometimes temporarily shut down. Consequently, if there are violations, there is a history.
Third, ask the tattoo artist about the inks he uses. The ink industry is reportedly poorly regulated and you might be injected with an odd cocktail of pigments, nickel and arsenic.
Fourth, ask the tattoo artist about his/her Hepatitis B history. He/she must provide authorities with proof of vaccination, proof of immunity to the disease and have on file in his/her shop documentation of his/her refusal of Hepatitis B vaccination.
Fifth, be aware of California’s facilities requirements, including: nonabsorbent floors; adequate lighting; restroom facilities; easily cleaned counter tops, tables and other surfaces; a separate sink for cleaning work materials; sewage into a public sewer; and a water supply from a source approved by local law enforcement.
Sixth, be aware of California’s supplies requirements, including: needle sterilization equipment approved by the state’s Department of Public Health; disinfectants approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); foot-operated trash cans; a separate container for needle disposal; and single-use paper towels for wiping down areas.
Seventh, report to the local authorities any noticeable violations of California’s facilities and/or supplies requirements.
Eighth, ask the tattoo artist about any recent problems.
Ninth, ask the tattoo artist about the tattoo process and about proper aftercare.
Tenth, if anything about the tattoo artist or his/her shop makes uncomfortable, don’t get the tattoo there. Keep looking and get it somewhere else.
Eleventh, obey the aftercare instructions.
Twelfth, if you have any problems with your tattoo, such as infection, excessive bleeding, allergic reaction or the like, immediately report it to the tattoo artist and consult a medical doctor.
DO’S AND DON’TS
DO check whether a tattoo parlor is registered with local authorities
DO check the background of the tattoo parlor.
DO ask the tattoo artist about the inks he uses.
DO ask the tattoo artist about his/her his Hepatitis B history.
DO be aware of California’s facilities requirements.
DO be aware of California’s supplies requirements
DO report to the local authorities any noticeable violations.
DO ask the tattoo artist about any recent problems.
DO ask the tattoo artist about the tattoo process and about proper aftercare.
DON’T patronize a tattoo artist or shop that makes you feel uncomfortable.
DO obey the aftercare instructions.
DO immediately report problems to the tattoo artist and consult a medical doctor.
Note from HandelontheLaw.com: This article is to be used as an educational guide only and should not be interpreted as a legal consultation. Readers of this article are advised to seek an attorney if a legal consultation is needed. Laws may vary by state and are subject to change, thus the accuracy of this information can not be guaranteed. Readers act on this information solely at their own risk. Neither the author, handelonthelaw.com, or any of its affiliates shall have any liability stemming from this article.