The state of Iowa has no laws regulating tongue or belly button piercings, but that may soon change.
A legislative bill proposing body piercing regulation was defeated in the state senate last year but is again pending, said Louise Smith, one of the owners of Lasting Impressions Tattoo Studio, 114 Welch Ave., who helped write the bill.
The bill will require parental consent for those under age 18 wishing to get pierced, all people who perform body piercings to be licensed and stores such as Claire's Boutiques to only pierce earlobes, not cartilage.
The bill was defeated last year because "the Board of Health believes that the research is not convincing that there is a health threat," said Mark Schoeberl, executive staff director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. "They have agreed that it does require additional research."
Some areas in Iowa are adopting more restrictive body piercing laws, including counties such as Cerro Gordo, Schoeberl said.
"Other communities are thinking about doing the same thing," he said.
Schoeberl said there are two main issues in regulating body piercing. The first is that "body piercing is done in a safe manner," with everything being sterile. The second is "whether a minor can and should be able to consent for body piercing."
He said according to the legislation, body piercing can be defined as piercing other than in "the fleshy part of the ear."
People must be 18 in order to get a tattoo, but in body piercing, "the state is silent on consent to a minor," Schoeberl said.
Another bill requiring parental consent for a minor receiving body piercing has been requested by State Rep. Teresa Garman, R-District 63.
"You can't get a tattoo in Iowa under 18, even with parental consent, but you can get your body pierced," she said.
Owners of body piercing shops in Ames are in favor of regulation.
"It wouldn't bother me at all," said Jodas Lacanne, manager at the Asylum, 120 Hayward Ave.
Lacanne and Smith both said they would not have to do anything differently if regulations were in place. Smith said all of the needles used in her shop are disposable.
"Everything is sterile," she said. "It's the safest we can make it."
Lacanne said he always tries to regulate the age of his patrons, and he keeps the equipment in his shop in sterile. However, he said the law is needed for those who do not follow these measures.
"There's still people out there that aren't as clean as they should be," he said.
The regulation is needed more for boutique shops that provide ear piercing, Lacanne said.
"I think they should be more worried about the piercing done at places like Claire's," he said.
Lacanne said the guns used at these stores may not be sterile, and the people doing the piercing are inexperienced.
Heather Denoin, an employee at Claire's, said, "We're trained by the manual given to us by Claire's."
She said the employees wear gloves and clean both the guns and the ear with alcohol wipes. She said the studs are already sterile, because they come in individually wrapped packages.
Some ISU students agree with the proposed regulations.
"I think it would be a good idea," said Sonyl Nagale, junior in pre-computer science, who has his tongue pierced. "I don't think it would be too bad for most places, because most places are sterile, but some might not be."
Todd Bass, freshman in botany who also has a pierced tongue, said he thinks it is a good idea because some people only learn by watching others and are never really trained in sanitary measures.
"Plus they have to keep all those high school hooligans from going crazy and getting pierced," he said.