The ordinance lays out physical, hygiene and health standards for tatooing and piercing businesses, said William Pitcher, Alameda County's environmental protection chief. It also specifies that clients of the businesses be required to give written consent.
The draft ordinance is modeled after Santa Clara County's because the state has lagged in setting regulations for the businesses.
"There's basically no oversight," Pitcher said. "We're bringing these businesses under county scrutiny and starting from scratch."
Practitioners now must prove they have tested negative for the blood-borne disease hepatitis B.
Jorge Goitia, senior environmental health specialist, told Wednesday's group, "Some of the practitioners will test the needle on themselves before they do it on you."
Under state confidentiality laws, the practitioner does not have to prove he or she does not have HIV/AIDS. Several audience members suggested the ordinance also require practitioners to prove they do not have hepatitis C.
Pitcher said the public health department was nervous about adding hepatitis C without proof it has been transferred with a tattoo needle.
"That may change tomorrow," he said.
The county's health officer, Dr.
San Lorenzo resident Kathy Martins questioned the sterilization procedures and businesses' sharing of body jewelry.
"I think these county ordinances can't be comprehensive enough," she said. "Because, you know, if you give someone an inch. ..."
Concerns such as these also will be revisited at next month's meeting.
"There are different ways of sterilization. It is kind of a technical problem for non-medical professionals," Pitcher added.
He later explained that the county's public health department is organized by funded programs. Once the ordinance passes and receives funding, then the department will investigate more how different facilities operate. Unincorporated Alameda County has eight tattoo businesses, and there are 60 to 70 countywide. Beauty parlors that apply permanent makeup likely will be added to the regulated businesses.
Pitcher said a full draft of the ordinance will be available on the county's environmental health Web site within a few days. The county plans to discuss the ordinance with all of the local city councils and bring it to the Board of Supervisors by April.
Reach Rachel Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-293-2463.