Totem and Tattoo? Georgia County Considers More Regulations on Tattoos and Piercings

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Health officials in Bibb County, Georgia are proposing new regulations on tattoo and body piercing services in the county. 13WMAZ reports that the Bibb County Board of Health is considering new rules for tattoo studios in the area. The board held a public hearing on the matter on February 18th.

“It’s not big changes, just slight modifications,” said “Dred,” a piercing artist at Beyond Taboo Tattoo in Mason, Georgia. The changes aren’t exactly controversial. The proposed regulations on the tattoo and piercing industry in the county mostly have to do with sterilization standards, such as having a sink near every tattooing station and keeping certain equipment in a separate room. Other rules would require tattoo and piercing apprentices to demonstrate a certain set of skills and would ban certain jewelry for piercing.

Carla Coley, District Environmental Health Director of Bibb County, holds these regulations to be necessary for an expanding industry.

“People want to do more and more things,” she said. “There was a need for the existing rules meet the demands of the industry.”

Not everyone, however, shares her convictions. Ray Carlisle, a local tattoo artist of some 16 years, is concerned that these regulations will inadvertently create a black market for tattoo and body art.

“When the prices go up, people go underground,” Carlisle said. “People tattooing kids sitting at a kitchen table or in a hotel room.”

“Anybody down the street with a cell phone and WiFi can become a tattoo artist now,” observed Dred.

“Some of the dangers of amateur piercing and tattooing include health risks for spreading diseases like Hepatitis B, physically harming the receiver, scarring, mutilation or nerve damage,” says Bill Aquino, Body Piercer and Tattoo Artist, Graduate of the Academy of Responsible Tattooing, Shop Manager at Body Art & Soul Tattoos in Brooklyn, NY. “Regulations are necessary to ensure only properly trained people are performing these procedures. You are breaking skin and exposing bodily fluids, an untrained person can easily cause infection or worse. Would you let a dentist give you a root canal in their kitchen? No, for obvious reasons.”

Though Dred and Carlisle aren’t worried that their businesses will suffer from these rules per se, they are concerned that the proposals will affect several businesses in the area — which may have to redo their entire sewage and drainage systems and even expand their buildings to provide the necessary accommodation. Dred, for one, states that providing more education about proper tattoo and piercing procedures would be a better alternative than some of these regulations.

Still, Coley and the other health officials are confident in the effectiveness of their proposals. Though they acknowledge the possibility of a black market forming, they ultimately feel that these new rules are necessary.

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