August 29, 2012
New state legislation that became effective in July requires tattoo and piercing shops to register and pass safety tests. Assembly member Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) said she authored the bill to protect people from hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases.
"I wanted to do something about this to ensure diseases would not be shared through needles," Ma said.
The legislation allows counties to charge fees, which will fund the annual inspections. "It's the intent of this law to protect the client and the artist," said Anne Frey, an environmental specialist in Sacramento County, which charges practitioners $142 a year. A green "pass" placard can be placed in the shop's window after a positive inspection. County officials say there are more than 175 sites, but just 47 have been inspected.
Underground artists operating out of their homes are the problem, said some shop owners.
"If they don't go after people who are working out of their house and not compliant, what is the point?" asked Dave O'Connor, owner of Sacramento Tattoo. O'Connor and others said the best practitioners are trained on blood-borne pathogens and did 90 percent of what is required by the law.
Nonetheless, the new rules prompted changes at local shops, including new sinks with touch-free faucets, new cleaning regimens, and updated paperwork.