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Am J Infect Control. 2010 Mar;38(2):130-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2009.07.008. Epub 2009 Nov 12.

Bloodborne pathogen risk reduction activities in the body piercing and tattooing industry.

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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cincinnati, OH 45226, USA.



This study examines how well regulations for bloodborne pathogens (BBPs), established primarily to reduce exposure risk for health care workers, are being followed by workers and employers in the tattooing and body piercing industry.


Twelve shops performing tattooing and/or body piercing (body art) in Pennsylvania and Texas were assessed for compliance with 5 administrative and 10 infection control standards for reducing exposure to BBPs.


All shops demonstrated compliance with infection control standards, but not with administrative standards, such as maintaining an exposure control plan, offering hepatitis B vaccine, and training staff. Shops staffed with members of professional body art organizations demonstrated higher compliance with the administrative standards. Shops in locations where the body art industry was regulated and shops in nonregulated locations demonstrated similar compliance, as did contractor- and employee-staffed shops.


Regulations to control occupational exposure to BBPs have been in place since 1991. This study corroborates noncompliance with some standards within the body art industry reported by previous studies. Without notable enforcement, regulation at national, state, or local levels does not affect compliance. In this study, the factor most closely associated with compliance with administrative regulations was the artist's membership in a professional body art association.

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