What is all this business about the tattooing law?

Tattoo Set-Up

I have to admit that I got worked up about our new tattooing law and may have not done a very good job of explaining why. First a couple of things that seem to have been missed by people who have been following this.

  1. This is not pending legislation. This is a law that has been passed. We are fighting to have that law amended before it begins to be enforced.
  2. If this law stays as it sits currently many of us will be unable and/or unwilling to follow it. We will be forced to break the law to protect our clients or no longer tattoo in New York state.
  3. We need the public to reach out to Representatives so that they understand the impact this has on not only the practitioners but the public as well.

So what are the problems. First Problem:

 Section 1.  Section 460 of the public health law is amended by  adding
two new subdivisions 10 and 11 to read as follows:
10. “SINGLE USE INK” SHALL MEAN A SEALED AND PRE-FILLED PACKAGE OF INK
THAT IS ONLY INTENDED FOR A SINGLE USE.
11.  “SINGLE  USE NEEDLE” SHALL MEAN A SEALED AND STERILE PACKAGE OF A
DISPOSABLE NEEDLE.

Pre-filled packages of ink are not a standard in the industry. They are sold in two forms. One is like a little pillow pack (think condiment package) that is torn open and the individual portion of ink poured out for use. The other is a pre-filled “ink cap” with a peel back lid. These forms of packaging require the addition of binders and additives to keep the particles of pigment dispersed. These additives are untested by professionals in the industry. Up until the introduction of this legislation the only practitioners interested in inks packaged in this manner were unprofessional/unlicensed tattooers who only planned on tattooing a buddy or two. As such these single use pre-filled packets are only made by shady supply companies. None of the trusted pigment suppliers package ink this way.

I personally would not use any of the brands that are available (in a package that would comply with this law) on a human being.

The other problem with the legislation that has now passed is the very vague use of the worlds sterile and all.

S 2. The public health law is amended by adding a new section  467  to
read as follows:
S  467.  SINGLE  USE TATTOO AND BODY PIERCING EQUIPMENT. 1. ALL TATTOO
STUDIOS AND BODY PIERCING STUDIOS MUST ENSURE THAT SINGLE USE  INKS  AND
SINGLE  USE  NEEDLES ARE USED IN ALL TATTOO AND BODY PIERCING PROCEDURES
PERFORMED IN SUCH ESTABLISHMENTS.
2. PRIOR TO A PERSON RECEIVING  A  TATTOO  OR  BODY  PIERCING  FROM  A
LICENSED TATTOOIST OR BODY PIERCING SPECIALIST, SUCH PERSON AND LICENSED
TATTOOIST  OR  BODY PIERCING SPECIALIST MUST SIGN A FORM CONFIRMING THAT
THE TATTOOIST OR BODY PIERCING SPECIALIST:
A. PRESENTED ALL SINGLE USE MATERIALS IN A STERILE AND SEALED PACKAGE,
THAT ARE TO BE USED DURING THE TATTOO OR BODY PIERCING PROCEDURE, TO THE
PERSON RECEIVING SUCH TATTOO OR BODY PIERCING; AND
B. OPENED ALL SINGLE USE MATERIALS THAT ARE  TO  BE  USED  DURING  THE
TATTOO  OR  BODY  PIERCING  PROCEDURE  INCLUDING NEEDLES, INKS AND OTHER
INSTRUMENTS IN THE PRESENCE OF THE PERSON RECEIVING SUCH TATTOO OR  BODY
PIERCING.

Looking specifically at the phrase “all single use materials in a sterile and sealed package”. This sounds like a great idea if by all they mean the needles and tubes. Which most definitely should be presented in a sterile package to be opened in front of the client. It has been industry standard to do this since before I began tattooing in 1991.

Unfortunately it doesn’t specify what they mean by all. If they try to enforce this as all single use items, it would include many single use disposable barriers and consumables that are used in every tattoo set up. Much like other fields concerned with cross contamination, we liberally use single use disposable items. Included but not limited to:

  • The ink caps which are at the center of most of the debates on this law.
  • Plastic barriers to cover machines.
  • Plastic barriers to cover spray bottles.
  • Plastic sleeving to cover clip cord.
  • Work surface barriers.
  • Barriers to cover power supply and any adjustment knobs or buttons.
  • Lift films to cover lights or chair adjustment points.
  • Wipes used for cleaning tattoo.
  • Tissues used for opening ink bottles.
  • Drapes to cover chairs or tables.
  • Barriers to keep skin from contacting supports such as arm rests.
  • Prep razors
  • Ointments for lubricating the skin during tattooing.
  • Gloves

Of course you are probably thinking “Well, why would anyone try to enforce all of those items being sterile and sealed in a package? That’s completely unreasonable. It makes no sense.”. You would be completely correct in this thought. But here we are with a passed law that is mandated the use of dangerous untested pigments on the public. Break the law, or harm your clients. So how unreasonable is it to believe that some well meaning inspector could take “all single use materials” to actually mean all single use materials.

Oddly enough as this reads now it would be more in compliance to just reuse items such as clip cords, razors, spray bottles without bagging them as then the item would no longer be single use and therefore not need to be presented in a sterile manner.

The law needs to be changed.

  • Specification for needles and needle guides (commonly referred to as tubes) to be sterile and packaged and opened in front of the client is completely reasonable (current wording does not mention tubes).
  • Specific mandates of pre-filled single use inks needs to be removed. Preferably replaced with a statement that pigment should be dispensed into single use disposable containers.
  • “All single use materials” needs to specify which individual items (such as needles and tubes) instead of using “all”.

What can you do to help?

  • If you have not done so already, please sign the petition online here.
  • Find and contact your New York State Assembly Representative. Mention S1421-2015 Tell your representative that you support amending this law and/or delaying enforcement until the matter can be studied further.
  • Find and contact your New York State Senator. Mention S1421-2015 Tell your representative that you support amending this law and/or delaying enforcement until the matter can be studied further.
  • Educate yourself as to what makes for safe practices in tattooing. You are your own best health and safety advocate.
  • Share this information. Help stop home tattooing.

My apologies to my followers who are normally here to see photos of tattoos and artwork. I know this type of thing is not fun or entertaining. Trust me, I would much rather that I was showing you photos of my latest creations instead of helping you understand that my livelihood and your safety are at risk here.

Ink Caps for Tattooing

~ by justteejay on October 2, 2015.

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