Health and safety tips to consider before getting a tattoo

A tattoo artist draws a woman on a man's arm during the 10th annual Buenos Aires Tattoo Show in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Natacha Pisarenko, The Canadian Press

EDMONTON – Health officials in Alberta are strongly encouraging anyone who’s considering getting a tattoo to do their research first.

“Body art is something that should be done in as safe an environment as possible and as clean an environment as possible,” said Dr. Chris Sikora, a medical officer of health with Alberta Health Services (AHS).

Concerns about health and safety at tattoo parlours came up earlier this week after AHS shut down a home-based operator in Edmonton due to unsanitary conditions.

According to AHS’ notice of closure,Tazzman Tattoo was breaking a number of the health standards and guidelines for tattooing. “Tattoo needles and tubes were contaminated with ink and blood and not sterile at the point of use,” the report read.

Clients who have received tattoos from Tazzman Tattoos are being urged to be tested for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.

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READ MORE: Home-based tattoo operator shut down due to unsanitary conditions; clients urged to be tested

While the closure is a “relatively unusual occurrence” in the Edmonton area, according to Sikora, there have been a number of home-based tattoo operators shut down across Alberta.

According to documents on the AHS website, three other tattoo shops have been closed by the health authority in the Edmonton Zone since 2011. Nine tattoo operators in the Calgary Zone have been shut down in the same time period, and another six were shut down in the Central Zone.

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From the preparation and handling of instruments and equipment, to the space in which a tattoo artist operates, there are a number of guidelines that must be followed. (read the full documents below).

“Alberta Health Services does routinely inspect tattoo operators. Part of that inspection process is assurance that they are in compliance with the tattooing regulations and guidelines from Alberta Health,” said Sikora.

And it’s particularly important for those receiving tattoos from home-based operators to ensure the artist is following the rules, Sikora added.

“Most of the time, a home-based tattoo operation is not going to be an inspected facility.”

“If it has a store front, those odds are there’s better chance that it would have been an inspected facility,” added Sikora.

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As result, Sikora urges people to do their research – go for a consultation, look around, and ask questions.

“Ask for an inspection report from Alberta Health Services, ask for the business licence,” he explained. “It is perfectly within your right as a customer to be able ask for those, to see those things and ensure to yourself that it’s being done in as safe a manner as possible.”

If the artist in unable to produce these documents, customers should contact AHS or their local health regulator.

Tips to follow before receiving a tattoo and Alberta’s Health Standards and Guidelines for Tattooing have been posted below:



Standards In Tattooing

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