Underground tattooists closed down

A warning has been issued after two underground tattooists in Dunedin were shut down over the past month for operating from substandard premises.

In one case, the person had bought their equipment online, watched a "how-to" video clip on the internet and began operating.

That had the potential for all sorts of health concerns, Dunedin City Council environmental health team leader Ros MacGill said yesterday.

Council staff became aware of one of the operations after it was advertised on a social media website and were tipped off about the other one by a registered tattooist, she said.

Both businesses were operating from private homes.

Anyone caught operating in an unregistered premises can face a $5000 fine and a $50-a-day penalty for every day they continue to operate without being registered.

In this case, both Dunedin operations were given a warning and ceased operating immediately, Ms MacGill said.

The council had previously come across underground tattooists in Dunedin, but it was not a regular occurrence.

Tattooists were required to be registered under the council's beauticians, tattooists and skin piercers bylaw, which requires premises to be inspected annually and provides operational guidelines.

The bylaw aimed to prevent the transfer of communicable diseases such as hepatitis B and C, HIV/Aids and bacterial skin infections, she said.

"Our concern is that contamination of equipment such as needles, lack of general hygiene in the premises and poor individual hygiene practices on the part of the operator all have the potential to transfer disease and infection."

The council's registration system operated in a similar fashion to the one used for food premises, and premises that met requirements were issued with a certificate they were required to display where clients could see it.

Seven registered tattooists were operating in the city, she said.

Dunedin tattooists yesterday said the underground tattoo scene in the city was growing.

Some believed there could be as many as 30 people operating from Dunedin homes.

They said the increase was largely because cheap equipment could be bought online and television shows on tattooing were whetting people's appetite to try it.

"People think they can watch a few shows and be a tattooist. They think it's a rock star lifestyle," one said.

 

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