STERILIZATION

We take every step necessary to provide a safe, clean, and sterile environment for our clientele. For the safety of our clients and ourselves, we have attended and passed seminars on OSHA standards of blood born pathogens, and this material is reviewed and updated annually. We are members of the A.P.T.( Alliance of Professional Tattooists) which is a non-profit educational and professional standards organization with members in all fifty states and abroad. Their primary concerns are continuing the education in practices of infection control, establishment of professional standards and the implementation of processional practices with regard to health and safety in the tattoo industry.

Any microorganism, including bacterial spores, which come into contact with normally sterile tissue can cause infection. Thus, it is important that all(critical) items that will touch normally sterile tissue to be sterilized. In general, intact skin acts as a barrier to most microorganisms and items that touch only intact skin need to be cleaned, but not necessarily sterile.

Even with all sterilization procedures available today, there are key points often overlooked in a tattoo studio. It is absolutely essential that all instruments to be sterilized are scrupulously clean. Items must be thoroughly cleaned before processing, because organic material such as blood and proteins may contain high concentrations of microorganisms. Also, such organic material may inactivate chemical germicides and protect microorganisms from the disinfection or sterilization process. This means complete removal of all debris, blood, blood products, skin, tissue, pigments, etc. from tubes, needles and bars. Reducing the bacterial population by wiping or scrubbing surfaces, aided by the bactericidal effect of a good disinfectant enhances the effect of sterilization. Waterproof instruments and other equipment should be placed in hot trisodium phoshate solution in an ultrasonic to remove debris left from tattooing and piercing.

The greatest potential danger in tattoo studios is the transmission of HBV or HCV from contaminated needles during the cleaning process. Infected clients carry living virus particles in their bloodstream for several weeks before feeling symptomatic and for several years after recovery from a bout with HBV. HBV and HCV are very stable and resistant to considerable heating, drying, and most chemicals. For this reason, any items that come into contact with serum, blood or body fluids must be processed rigorously and carefully.

AUTOCLAVE STERILIZATION

Saturated steam under pressure is the oldest effective means and the most common agent used for sterilization of instruments, devices and supplies. However, steam sterilization is not a simple process. Providing a sterile product depends on proper cleaning to lower the bioburden prior to sterilization, using an effective sterilization cycle and preventing recontamination of sterilized items through good handling and storage techniques prior to delivery to the point of use. These three phases are interrelated and each must be accomplished to produce and maintain a sterile product.

This application is the method that is used at B.A.T. Gallery. The autoclave consists of a steel chamber capable of withstanding more than 15 pounds per square inch(psi) of pressure. Pre-scrubbed, cleaned and bagged items to be sterilized are placed in the autoclave. As steam vapor enters the chamber, the air inside is forced out a vent. When the temperature inside the chamber reaches 100 degrees centigrade, or boiling, and all air has been removed, the vents are closed. Steam continues to enter, increasing the internal pressure to 15 psi above atmospheric pressure. In the studio we maintain 15-30 psi at 250-270 degrees Fahrenheit for 55 minutes from cold start and 45 minutes from hot start adequately ensures death of all living microorganisms. In theory, all living material, including bacteria, fungi, spores, and viruses are destroyed in 15 to 20 minutes. The extra time is a margin of safety. For even further safety precautions the autoclave is spore tested once a week by an outside source.

Sterilization can not be achieved using toaster ovens, cigarette lighters, home ovens, boiling on the stovetop in alcohol, gas grills, sunlight, halogen bulbs, soaking in solutions such as alcohol or betodine/iodine, etc.