New Delhi: Tattoos, either as art of self expression or merely a fashion statement seems to be a trend catching up among Gen Y who are flaunting body art ranging from the bizarre to the mundane. However, what lies on the other side of this "cool" trend may be a health hazard, say experts who point out that absence of guidelines including mandatory health permits orcertificates makes it easy for anybody to open a tattoo studio and register it as a business. "Here you can register simply under services, or as a salon or parlour, there is no specific clearance needed by the health ministry," says Abhishaik Madhur who owns IndelibleTattooz in the national capital. This has given rise to tattoo studios mushrooming in the country in recent years. An informal count puts over 50 tattoo parlours in Delhi alone. Since there are no regular health inspections, studio owners say they have evolved procedures to protect themselves in case of a dispute and also to ensure safety of the clients. Some studios even make customers sign a consent form. "The purpose of the consent form is to assess their medical conditions to determine their eligibility. Tattoos are not advisable if somebody is taking anti- coagulant which is ablood thinning medicine, for pregnant women or someone prone to allergy," says Madhur.
When asked about inspections he says, "There are no time-to-time check ups or regulations because no such rules are in place". Experts say not just health clearances but even the equipment used for tattooing needs to be scrutinised. " The tattoo equipments used is not available in India. We import it mailny from the US" says Lokesh, owner of devilz tattoz. A tattoo kit comprises power supply, coil machine, grips, tube etc. Besides disposable gloves, studios also use a machine for sterilisation but they say no monitoring is doneto confirm hygienic health practices are implemented."The minimum cost is Rs eight to Rs 10 thousand and can go upto Rs 1 lakh. But some cheap, chinese kits are also available in the market," says Madhur. Countries like UK and US follow stringent rules to ensure safety in the tattoo trade and it is illegal to conduct the tattoo business without formal approval and procurement ofhealth permits. In US, there are inspections every four months and results have to be mandatorily displayed at studios failing to do which could cost studio owners theirbusinessess. PTI
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