A few months ago, tattoo and body-piercing studios started operating under new state regulatory guidelines.

Officials with the Kentucky Department for Public Health said the revisions addressed industry changes that have taken place during the past 15 years.

To begin with, every registered tattoo artist must complete blood-borne pathogen training.

Studios that use all disposable products are exempted from clean room and autoclave requirements. An autoclave is a machine used to sterilize equipment.

The new regulations require a notarized statement of parental consent for minors at least 16 years of age seeking tattoos without a parent or legal guardian present. In addition, minors requesting ear piercings now must have a notarized statement.

Body piercing shops can’t perform ear piercings on anyone under the age of 16 unless the studio has an ear-piercing permit and license. Even then, the shop must use an ear-piercing gun, not a needle.

The rules changed for jewelry inserted during a new body piercing. Only internally threaded or threadless jewelry meets the new requirement.

In addition to new regulations, state officials raised annual registration fees for artists and studios. For example, the fee for a tattooing permit alone jumped from $100 to $400.

Daviess County has eight shops that offer tattooing, five that perform body piercings, eight that do microblading or permanent eye makeup and two that offer ear piercings, according to Green River District Health Department records.

Ohio County has three shops: One offers tattoos, one performs microblading and one does ear piercings.

No shops operate in Hancock and McLean counties.

GRDHD inspects tattoo/body piercing shops, along with permanent makeup and ear piercing locations, twice a year, said Ryan Christian, environmental health program manager.

Tattooing and body piercings are very popular.

“That’s why we want to make sure they are following procedures and operating safely,” Christian said.

Unlike restaurant inspections, tattoo shops do not receive A, B or C placards that must be publicly displayed. However, they receive a copy of their inspection reports, which patrons can request.

When selecting an artist, Christian said clients may want to ask if artists are up to date on their blood-borne pathogen training and whether they use all disposable products or still use an autoclave and clean room. If they use an autoclave, ask if the shop is up to date on its spores test in the clean room.

“They all do a good job,” Christian said of local tattoo studios. “I would feel comfortable going to any of them ... .”

Danny Sexton, the owner of Asylum Tattoo and Art Gallery, gave a thumbs-up to most of the state’s revisions, but he doesn’t like the new rule regarding threadless or internally threaded jewelry for new body piercings.

“It has caused some issues, and we have been changing them out for people,” Sexton said.

The threadless or internally threaded pieces have short bars and the jewelry is too small, which allows it to get sucked in under the skin.

Having said that, Sexton agrees with the new requirement for blood-borne pathogen training. Sexton completed the training years ago when he first became an artist because he sometimes works at events in other states that require it.

For years, he has used disposable products only.

Also, Sexton was understanding of the state’s higher fees for artists and studios. It may keep fly-by-night operators from starting shops on a whim, he said.

In the future, Sexton hopes state officials focus more attention on finding and stopping unregistered providers who operate out of homes.

GRDHD officials mailed a letter about new regulations to all tattoo and piercing studios in its service area last year. The state’s updated regulations can be found on the district’s website at www.healthdepartment.org.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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