All Points Medical Waste Blog

Safe Medical Waste Disposal for Tattoo Parlors

Understanding Regulations & Safety Concerns

Closeup photo of a tattoo artist working on a tattoo on a person's forearm.Tattoo artists and owners of tattoo shops offer a variety of services to their customers; many, in addition to providing body art, offer body piercings as well. Because these services require the use of various types of medical instruments and materials, it’s imperative that owners and artists understand the regulations surrounding medical waste, including what classifies as waste, how to properly collect, store and dispose of it and the safety and compliance issues related to improper disposal.

Types of Waste Tattoo Artists Generate

During one session of tattooing, a tattoo artist must use needles and other sharp instruments to puncture the skin hundreds or even thousands of times, depending on the size and scope of the design. With body piercings, the artist will also use needles or other sharps to perform the piercing, which again means puncturing the skin numerous times. These processes can put the artist and the customer at risk for various health issues, including the transmission of bloodborne infections such as HIV, hepatitis and others. Here’s a look at some of the medical waste that a tattoo parlor may generate:

Needles and Sharps: Needles and other sharp items are used in the process of tattooing, as well as those used for a variety of body piercings come in contact with the skin, blood and body tissues and therefore are classified as medical waste.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Items that are used in the process of tattooing or piercing include gloves and gauze, masks, cotton balls and bandages. All of these items can become contaminated with blood and bodily fluids. Because of this, they are considered medical waste.

Ink Caps: Ink caps can also be contaminated with blood or bodily fluids and therefore, must be classified as hazardous medical waste.

Unused or Expired Ink: Tattoo ink that has expired or is no longer needed should be treated as medical waste to prevent environmental contamination.

What Are the Dangers of Improper Medical Waste Disposal?

Improper disposal of medical waste from a tattoo shop can pose significant risks to the community, public health, the environment, wildlife and to the business’ credibility.
Other dangers include:

Spread of Infection: Needles and materials that are contaminated from the tattoo or piercing process can lead to the spread of a variety of infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C to both staff members and customers.

Environmental Hazards: When medical waste from tattoo parlors is not disposed of properly, it can leach into the water supplies, soil and air, putting our ecosystems, wildlife and the community in danger.

Non-Compliance Consequences: Tattoo parlors that fail to follow medical waste regulations can face a variety of issues including violations, fines and legal action from state and/or federal agencies. In addition, they can suffer from negative publicity which can lead to a loss of credibility as well as losing customers.

Some of the Consequences Tattoo Parlors Can Face for Improper Disposal of Medical Waste

Just like any other business that generates medical waste, tattoo parlors are required to follow local, state and federal mandates when it comes to disposing of their medical waste.

Fines: Regulatory agencies can and will impose fines and penalties on tattoo parlors who are in violation of medical waste disposal regulations. These fines can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the severity of the violation.

Loss of Business License: Those tattoo shops that are found to be repeatedly violating medical waste disposal mandates can end up having their operating licenses revoked or suspended, essentially shutting down their business until compliance issues are addressed.

Loss of Credibility and Damage to Reputation: Tattoo shops often earn their reputation based on customer referrals. Earning a reputation in the industry not only requires qualified and talented tattoo artists, but also maintaining a clean shop and ensuring customer and staff safety. Improper medical waste management disposal can cause damage to the reputation of the tattoo shop and cause a loss of trust among customers and potential customers. Rebuilding trust and restoring a damaged reputation can be a long and arduous process.

Proper disposal of medical waste is crucial for safeguarding the health and safety of the community, the environment and wildlife. Following regulations set forth by mandating agencies in the collection, storage, transportation and disposal of medical waste is key to protecting your business.

All Points Medical Waste provides full service medical waste disposal to tattoo parlors across the state of Florida. We are a family-owned and operated business located in Stuart, Florida and can assist you with all your medical waste disposal needs. Give us a call today or complete the form on this page to learn more.


Dawn Connelly

Dawn is the vice president of All Points Medical Waste. All Points Medical Waste is a family-owned and operated medical waste disposal and compliance company that has been serving the Treasure Coast, Palm Beaches, and surrounding areas since 1994.
Get Your Quick Quote
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.