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Regulated Ink: State Rep. Aims To Clean Up Tattoo Shops

A needle digs painfully deep into your skin for what seems like an eternity, and in its place, an image or phrase resides forever. But who’s to say a deadly blood-born disease like HIV doesn’t inhabit, too?

No one, and that’s a major problem as tattoos and body piercings become more popular, according to a Pennsylvania lawmaker.

“Because there’s needles used, there should be some sort of, at the least, sanitation or sterilization requirements for an establishment and some training that’s involved with the tattoo artists as well,” Rep. Rosemary Brown said.

Brown (R-Monroe/Pike) is sponsoring a bill, which passed in the state House Monday. It would regulate tattoo, body-piercing and permanent-cosmetic artists by requiring shops to obtain a license to operate. The license would come with a fee of $100.

The legislation would also establish a series of health, sanitization, sterilization and safety standards that stores must follow.

“There should be a little bit of regulation and a little bit of confidence on the consumer that there is some sort of license required and there is somebody looking at the sanitary and sterilization of a tattoo establishment,” Brown said.

For people under the age of 18 who want to get a tattoo, the legislation would require them to get parental consent, have a parent present during the process and show proper identification.

The bill would also limit tongue splitting, a type of body modification on the rise among teenagers.

According to a Dec. 2013 study by the Pew Research Center, there are more than 21,000 tattoo parlors in the United States, and approximately 14 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo.

Brown said her legislation is a “common sense bill,” as tattoo establishments are popping up everywhere.

“I think it is kind of keeping up with something that’s trending,” Brown said. “It’s more than just, ‘hey, we’ve been behind the times.’ Now it’s starting to say we’re identifying that it’s not regulated at all.”

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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