NEHA Requests Input on Model Body Art Code

NEHA News Release


Release Date: 
January 10, 2022

Body Art Model Code Change RequestFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Contact: Chana Goussetis, Communication & Marketing Director, National Environmental Health Association

January 10, 2022 

Denver, CO – Today, the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) announced they will be updating their model code for body art and is requesting review and comment from both the environmental health and body art communities. The NEHA Body Art Model Code serves as a resource for local and state organizations to update their own body art code to protect public health.    

The perception of body art has changed from extreme to generally accepted. A 2019 U.S. poll illustrates this change, finding that about 30% of people living in the country have at least one tattoo, compared to 21% in 2012. Further, the poll found that 40% of people 18–34 years old and 35% of people 35–54 years old have at least one tattoo. Many individuals report having more than one tattoo. Body piercing has also grown in popularity. It is estimated that approximately 61% of adults in the U.S. have had a body piercing.  

While most body art can be performed safely, it does carry risks, including the spread of bloodborne pathogens, skin infections, serious infections like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, allergic reactions, keloids, nerve damage, and bleeding. The transmission of bloodborne pathogens, including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV, can occur when dirty needles are reused or when proper cleanup techniques are not used. Body art codes set standards for mitigating these risks to individuals and the community. 

The NEHA Body Art Model Code includes guidance about professional standards; specific considerations for piercing, branding, and scarification; jewelry standards; public health notification; recordkeeping; informed consent; disinfection and sterilization; biomedical waste; licensing requirements; inspection; and enforcement.    

“Our goal is to provide the best, most useful guidance possible so that environmental health professionals at the local level can focus on the real work of partnering with body art facilities to keep communities safe and healthy,” said Dr. David Dyjack, NEHA executive director.  

Anyone who would like to recommend changes to the current NEHA Body Art Model Code should go to by June 30, 2022, to submit their comments. Comments are requested on both grammar and content.

NEHA first introduced the Body Art Model Code in 1998, updated it in 2019, and created a supporting Annex in 2021. They have also published a policy statement on body art. NEHA advocates for national, state, and local policies, regulations, research, and resources that will enhance the ability of environmental health professionals to ensure the practice of safe body art procedures to better protect public health. 

About the National Environmental Health Association

The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) is a professional society with more than 6,000 governmental, private, academic, and uniformed services sector environmental health professionals in the U.S., its territories, and internationally. NEHA is the profession's strongest advocate for excellence in the practice of environmental health as it delivers on its mission to build, sustain, and empower an effective environmental health workforce.  This mission is fulfilled in the products and services offered by NEHA to advance the environmental health professional through credentialing, training, education, networking, professional development, and policy involvement opportunities. Learn more about NEHA at