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Occupational risks of bloodborne pathogen exposures to body piercers and tattooists.

Viet S; Lehman E; Huy J
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 8-13, 2004, Atlanta, Georgia. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2004 May; :22
Although the possibility that body piercers and tattooists are exposed to bloodborne pathogens (BBP) in their work places is clear, no large-scale study to define their occupational risks in relation to BBP exposure has occurred to date. The nature of body piercing and tattooing as small independent businesses lacking unions or other professional associations, where training is generally on site rather than through established educational systems, creates a pair of industries that is difficult to study. To further research in this area, NIOSH conducted a feasibility study of tattooists and true body piercers (not those that use guns for piercing ears). A search of the scientific, business, and popular literature was conducted to summarize what is known about exposures to piercers and tattooists. Federal- and state-based regulations were reviewed to determine the existence and extent of regulation of these occupations. An on-site walkthrough was then conducted in 12 establishments in Pennsylvania and Texas (identified from yellow page listings), some of which were members of professional tattoo and piercing associations, to observe tattoo and piercing work practices. No establishment had a written exposure control plan. Many artists had not received hazard communication training or hepatitis B vaccinations. A number of work practices were identified that could potentially expose artists to BBP, including breaking of needles and razors, and failure to protect their clothing and work seating. Recommendations for further research include looking at establishments in other nonregulated areas of the country and also those that do not advertise in the yellow pages.
Bloodborne-pathogens; Blood-disorders; Risk-analysis; Occupational-exposure; Worker-health; Work-environment; Work-practices; Workplace-monitoring; Safety-measures
Publication Date
Document Type
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Infectious Diseases
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 8-13, 2004, Atlanta, Georgia
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division