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Environmental Health Officer Warns of Illegal Tattooing

Reports of people in Fremont County getting tattoos and body art from unlicensed individuals have prompted a warning from Fremont County Environmental Health Officer Sid Darden.  Darden says if you’re getting a tattoo from someone in their basement, kitchen, bathroom, or garage you can bet with one hundred percent certainty that you’re getting an illegal tattoo.   Darden says he recently has received more reports of an individual doing tattoos by appointment in private homes.   Darden says that too is illegal and not just a violation of Fremont County health regulations but also a violation of state law.

Fremont County adopted rules and regulations governing body art facilities, locations that provide mainly tattoos and body piercings, on June 30, 2009.   Until then Fremont County did not have a body art regulation, but the State of Colorado had a set of statewide regulations that had been in place for a number of years.

Under Fremont County’s Body Art Regulations, the location where these procedures are performed is required to be inspected, approved, licensed, and meet a set of minimum standards.   The body artists who work in these facilities are required to meet minimum standards, including knowledge of universal precautions (a set of precautions designed to prevent the transmission of HIV, hepatitis c and other blood borne pathogens).    The physical location is inspected, approved and licensed.

Darden says in Colorado there’s no such thing as a licensed tattoo artist who’s licensed and approved to do tattoos in either his/her own private residence or at someone else’s private residence. These procedures are invasive to the human body and if done improperly, can lead to a long list of serious problems including hepatitis c and other serious infections.    In addition, he says there are stringent procedures for sterilizing reusable instruments, using single-use instruments that must be discarded after one use, sterilizing and sanitizing surfaces, and having access to hand washing facilities.

Darden says a monthly test must be performed to make sure there is proper sterilization of reusable instruments.   Records must be maintained of those tests and of the proper disposal of sharps and other items that have been contaminated with body fluids.    The body art facility is required to keep client records, including completing a client consent form for each client, which includes the name of the body artist, direction on when to consult a physician, detailed after-care instructions, possible side effects from the procedure and an explanation that the body art should be considered permanent.

Darden points out that there are currently only two licensed body art establishments operating in Fremont County; THE DUNGEON INC. and THE MANDALA PRIVATE ART STUDIO.   He says if you’re getting a body art procedure at any location, it’s illegal.     Darden says the lone exception is that locations which only offer piercing of the outer perimeter or lobe of the ear with a sterilized stud-and-clasp ear piercing system are not governed by these regulations.

If you have questions or if anyone is interested in opening an approved body art facility in Fremont County, they can contact Fremont County Environmental Health at 276-7460.