The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a proposal to implement some important safety regulations regarding sunlamps and indoor tanning. The public health initiative will prohibit the use of sunlamp products (like tanning beds) to individuals younger than 18 years old.
Additionally, individuals over the age of 18 would be obligated to sign a certification before their first tanning session, to acknowledge the risk of using tanning beds. Every six months thereafter the certification needs to be re-signed.
Also, sunlamp manufacturers and tanning facilities need to take additional measures to improve the overall safety of these devices. This includes:
- Making warnings easier to read and more obvious on the device;
- Requiring an emergency shut off switch or “panic button”;
- Improving eye safety by offering protective eyewear that would limit the amount of light allowed.
So why is this needed?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, individuals are 59 percent more likely to develop melanoma if they have been exposed to radiation from indoor tanning than those who never tan indoors. To add to that, the effects of exposure to UV radiation add up over one’s lifetime and with 1.6 million minors choosing to tan indoors each year, they increase their risk of skin cancer and other skin and eye damage.
These changes are intended to reduce the risk for young people and raise awareness about the negative effects of sunlamps. The risks of UV exposure from sunlamps are known and preventable, and this initiative could help individuals make wiser and more thought-out decisions.
Tanning bans in other countries
Although this proposal indicates a great step in the right direction, the United States still has a long way to go. Compared to Australia, where there is the highest incidence of melanoma in the world, the United States is still in the beginning phases of implementing stronger safety regulations. At the beginning of 2015, almost all tanning salons had been banned in Australia and similar bans have been in place in Brazil.
Australia is the first country in the world to have seen a fall in the reduction in the levels of melanoma and nonmelanoma in individuals under 45. With the implementation of the new regulations in the United States, we hope that the initiatives have similar positive effects.