Lawmakers Struggle to Keep Up With Body Art Revolution

For the past two years, Amundson has trekked to Olympia, the state capital -- his piercings and tattoos sticking out of his suit -- lobbying for legislation to establish sterilization requirements for body piercing and scarification that would at least match what the state passed for tattooing in 2001.

"Body piercing has been totally unregulated in the state of Washington," he says.

Amundson's bill was one of three shot down this year. Undaunted, he says, "I'll return in 2007."

Where states have dragged, some counties and cities have stepped in with their own codes to pick up the regulatory slack.

Philadelphia, for example, requires training certificates and apprenticeships for body artists, along with regular inspections. Albuquerque, N.M., has also put in place its own regulations, requiring permits, training in blood-borne pathogens, continuing education and inspections -- again, with help from the local body art industry.

But such a piecemeal approach still leaves large swaths of states unregulated.

"It's nice when you have universal standards at the state level, so there's a level playing field," says Dean Peterson, director of environmental health for San Mateo County, Calif. After waiting eight years for the California Department of Health Services to write the rules for a body art law the state passed in 1998, San Mateio County, along with five other counties in the state, put its own monitoring and enforcement system in place last November.

"We could not wait," says Peterson. "We're concerned about the potential for disease that body art can pass on if not done correctly. These are vulnerable procedures."

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...