The growing popularity of tattooing is posing a real threat to public health, according to a conference organized by the United Kingdom’s Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).

According to a post on the CIEH website, research reveals that nearly half of UK tattoo parlors questioned failed to ask customers basic questions about their health, age or to give advice about after care.

Despite the need for tattooing to be carried out in a hygienic environment, some tattooists in the study admitted that they attend house parties and provide tattoos for partygoers.

The study also highlights how easy it is to buy DIY tattoo kits on the Internet. This is a real concern as individuals seek to save money by tattooing themselves and possibly their friends.

The kits can be dangerous because the equipment rarely comes with safety advice, is available to people who have no training in tattooing and who might be too young to get a tattoo at an authorized parlor.

The study comes after cases of teenagers being tattooed underage and a police investigation into a house party in 2008 where several teenagers needed medical treatment after being tattooed.

While the study also shows that there are many responsible tattooing establishments and tattooists – the numbers that fail to meet the rigorous standards required for an invasive procedure like tattooing are too significant to ignore.

Commenting, Julie Barratt, CIEH director, said:

“This is an excellent piece of research that shows the need for the public health community to always be vigilant. Tattooing is an invasive procedure that if carried out incorrectly or unhygienically can result in life threatening blood related illnesses such as hepatitis and HIV.

“It is essential that appropriate information is sought and advice is given by tattooists to their customers both before the procedure and afterwards to ensure that health of both parties is not compromised.

“For health practitioners the fact that some of these procedures could be taking place in an unhygienic environment by untrained children (in the case of DIY tattoo kits and home tattoo parties) is of huge concern.

The CIEH is calling for:

  • A standardized suite of pre-procedure health questions and of post-procedure health advice
  • Official notification to local authorities if a tattooist intends to tattoo other than at a registered premises
  • Greater public awareness about the public health dangers associated with DIY tattoo kits

The CIEH is the UK’s leading provider of accredited food safety and health and safety qualifications.

The CIEH’s 50 qualification programs are delivered through a network of more than 10,000 registered trainers. The training is developed for the varied skill levels within organizations. They cater to different learning styles and preferences through a series of flexible structures. CIEH qualifications are OFQUAL (formerly QCA) accredited and are valued and recognized throughout the world

The CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health representing more than 10,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. It ensures the highest standards of professional competence in its members, in the belief that through environmental health action people's health can be improved.

For more information about the CIEH visit