Tanning bed emissions vary widely

May 25, 2011

Australia’s solarium operators are unaware that their customers are being exposed to levels of UV radiation up to six times the strength of the midday sun’s rays, Medical News Today reports.

Melbourne, Australia - Australia’s solarium operators are unaware that their customers are being exposed to levels of UV radiation up to six times the strength of the midday sun’s rays, Medical News Today reports.

New research conducted by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) measured UV emissions from solariums in Victoria and New South Wales. The study showed major variability in UV outputs from tanning beds.

In one establishment, for instance, three of the eight-minute sun beds recorded UV index ranges of 31.3, 40.7 and 48.6, while the 10-minute tanning bed measured 20.6. Australia’s allowed maximum UV index is 36.

Investigators say this degree of variability makes it nearly impossible for consumers or operators to know a particular tanning bed’s UV intensity - a real problem, considering that 10 minutes of exposure could lead to severe sunburn, depending on which bed is used.

Australian health officials say the ARPANSA research results bolster existing evidence that solariums should be more closely regulated. Medical News Today quotes Cancer Council Australia CEO Ian Olver as saying, “Australians are putting their lives at risk when using a solarium. Each year 1,850 Australians die of skin cancer, and solariums make a mockery of our efforts to reduce skin cancer.”