skip to content, health centers and clinics, search, accessibility statement

Press Release

New Oversight for Body Artists Expected to Reduce Risk of Infection, Disease

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tattoo artists and body piercers must meet stringent safety requirements to prevent infection and disease or face closure beginning next month, according to a new state law that gives local health departments more regulatory control over these businesses.

The Safe Body Art Act, passed last fall, requires body artists to be trained in blood-borne pathogens, sanitation and CPR, as well as receive vaccination against hepatitis B and register with their county's health department. Unsanitary practices can lead to serious illnesses, including hepatitis B, C and AIDS.

Environmental Health Director Marilyn Underwood, Ph.D., of Contra Costa Health Services doesn't anticipate any facility closures, largely due to the proactive approach she said her staff has taken to help artists comply with the law by the July 1 deadline.

"The fact is body artists are less regulated than the person who cuts you hair," Dr. Underwood said. "Through this law, health departments can help protect the public's health through enforcement of certain safety and sanitation requirements."

Before the Safe Body Art Act, regulations varied from county to county. In Contra Costa, body art facilities were required only to register with the health department, Dr. Underwood said.

Environmental Health Specialists have been conducting inspections and distributing informational materials to the roughly 60 known body artists in Contra Costa County to help them comply with the new regulations, said Supervising Environmental Health Specialist Joe Doser. While blood-borne diseases are rare, Doser believes the new regulations will help reduce other more common infections caused by piercings and tattoos.

"The Safe Body Art Act brings credibility to artists who care about the health and safety of their clients," Doser said. "People should not have to worry about getting a life-threatening disease or even a minor infection that may result in scarring from a tattoo or piercing. This Act clearly spells out how to avoid those risks."

To find out more about the law or to download a podcast about the law by Contra Costa Environmental Health Director Dr. Marilyn Underwood, visit

# # #

Press Contact
  • Oliver Symonds
  • Community & Media Relations Specialist
  • 925-313-6832