(PROVO, UT) January 21, 2011 -- The Utah County Health Department (UCHD) is encouraging individuals seeking a tattoo, body piercing, or other body art to seek out licensed facilities.
"We issue permits for body art facilities to minimize the transfer of life threatening diseases," said Jason Garrett, UCHD Environmental Health infection disease program manager. "We want people to understand that facilities that are licensed by the health department meet a minimum set level of health standards. These individuals have training in dangers such as blood borne pathogens, potential for infection, and how to minimize other risks."
Body artist facilities are required to register with the UCHD. Health inspectors check on a variety of issues during routine inspections, from sanitary conditions and condition of equipment to making sure that individual artists are properly trained to prevent the transfer of disease during a procedure. These facilities are inspected regularly as well for properly functioning equipment, good sterilization procedures, proper record management, and other facility requirements.
"We want people to understand the associated risks of body art," said Garrett. "Anytime you penetrate the skin you run certain risks. We want the facilities in our county to understand how to minimize these risks." Hepatitis, staph infections and even antibiotic resistant infections such as MRSA can be spread from person-to-person during the application of body art. "The artist has to demonstrate a minimum level of training and understanding of infectious disease transfer in order to obtain a license," said Garrett.
The UCHD has recently added a list of all facilities licensed in Utah County to their web site. "We also have a form where individuals can submit a complaint if they are concerned about an establishment," said Garrett. He stresses that it is important the UCHD gets complete information on a complaint. "If we are missing details, such as the date and exact incident or the complainant's name, it makes it very hard for us to follow up on things." Garrett adds that names can be kept confidential. Likewise, if citizens are aware of facilities that aren't licensed, Garrett said the UCHD would like to know that as well. "We really just want people to know the health department's role, and the fact that if an individual has a concern, we are here."