POCATELLO, Idaho -- At a tattoo convention in Pocatello, some are calling for government intervention in the industry to stop the spread of disease.
Over the weekend, crowds of people covered in body art and ink are converging at the Gate City Community Center for tattoo competitions, music and a little education.
Local tattoo artist Mike Swallow said tattoos may have been taboo years ago, but nowadays, they're everywhere.
"Back 40 years ago it was only prisoners and maybe outlaw motorcycle gangs had tattoos and maybe a navy guy. Now everybody's got tattoos. I think the president may even have a tattoo,” Swallow said.
As far as we know, the president doesn't have a tattoo.
But as more people get ink, and more businesses spring up, some tattoo artists fear the spread of blood borne pathogens like hepatitis, or even HIV.
"If you don't know who you're going to or what you're getting done, in Pocatello or anywhere in Idaho, it's kind of a risky situation. You could be putting yourself in a real high risk,” Swallow said.
Swallow is among a number of tattoo artists calling for government intervention. He said the health department needs to step in, so tattoo parlors that don't take safety into account, can get shut down.
"They've got health department involved in food service, but the tattoo industry has no regulation in Idaho. It's one of the only states I know of,” Swallow said.
The tattoo convention is also trying to help out a good cause by putting on a raffle to raise money to buy new equipment for Bannock County Search and Rescue.
"We need them. That's all there is to it. They're there when you're stuck or you're injured, and they have a hard time. Their equipment is antiquated, and they need to come up to the newer standards,” Event Coordinator Tony Hansen said