Home Tanning Danger on the Rise

In Victoria, Australia anyone 18-years-old and under are banned from tanning salons. Owners must display health warnings or face fines up to $1 million. Since the law in Victoria came into effect in 2008, the “number of outlets offering the service has plummeted by 67% from 436 to 143 salons.” Now the New South Wales government is announcing plans for a total ban on tanning salons by the end of 2014. With businesses closing and losing customers they are unloading their used tanning beds onto online shopping websites like Craigslist, Ebay and Amazon. This sets up a dangerous scenario where people can buy their own personal tanning bed with a click of a button and could lead to more cases of skin cancer as people tan without supervision.

“Some of these beds are worth $15,000 to $20,000 and I’ve seen some online being sold for $500 or less. This is very powerful equipment and these commercial machines can do some damage if you don’t follow the rules. You’re going to get idiots who will use them all day and burn themselves silly,” Mr. Konemann (former head of the Australian Solarium Association) says.

Let’s estimate how many tanning beds are going out into the public market. If 293 salons have closed and each of those salons carried at least 10 tanning beds (maximum)–that would be 2930 tanning beds available for sell and private in-home use! I searched Ebay and ironically enough through the search terms “Health and Beauty” I found tanning beds. There was even a seller starting the bidding at $50, with the most expensive being around $6000. Amazon and Craigslist had similar findings. I can’t seem to shake the amount of used tanning beds that are being sold to people for private use. With even more to be available as tanning salons go out-of-business…

What are we going to do with thousands of tanning beds?? Is it the governments responsibility?

Professor of public health at the University of Sydney Simon Chapman says, “It would be a public service for (state) governments to just buy them at that low market price and destroy them. Another option would be to outlaw the selling of them.”

Not only are there used tanning beds for sale online, but there are many websites that sell brand new ones too. Just like tanning salons these online retailers provide a lot of misinformation. I found the selling points sleazy, deceptive and astonishing. There was one sentence in particular that said, “If anything goes wrong with your new tanning bed you can rely on our customer service department to resolve any issue.” I wonder if they can resolve skin cancer, melanoma or the loss of a loved one as a result of tanning bed use? I doubt it.

Some other ridiculous sugar-coated (BS) points made by an online tanning bed retailer:

  • “Tanning is a natural biochemical process that actually helps to protect our bodies from harmful amounts of UV light. The FDA simply wants to make sure the tanning process doesn’t cause problems it is designed to prevent.”
  • “Tanning is a natural biochemical process that actually helps protect our skin from damaging ultraviolet rays from the sun. Indoor tanning is a controlled environment and therefore much better than lying out in the sun.”
  • “In your skin, you have specialized cells called melanocytes. When exposed to UVB, these pigment cells absorb the light. As the light is absorbed, it stimulates these cells to emit a substance called melanin. This melanin is a clear oily substance that seeps to the surface of the skin. Once at the surface of the skin, this melanin helps block the UVB light, and keeps it from penetrating as well. That’s why, at the beginning of summer, you can get sunburn by working outside for just a half an hour, and by the end of the summer you can stay out all day. A lot of melanin has moved to the surface of your skin to protect it.”
  • “UVA light is at the weakest end of the UV spectrum. UVA is not a penetrating type of light. However, it does cause a chemical reaction in the melanin which completes the UV protection. When melanin is exposed to UVA it oxidizes. When melanin oxidizes it turns brown. So, what we see as a tan is really melanin on the surface of the skin that has been oxidized by UVA.”

Just to clarify the above bullets are sugar-coated misinformation used to sell tanning beds. Tanning is a natural biochemical process that is a result of skin damage. A tan is caused when there is injury to the skin’s DNA from over exposure to UV rays. The skin darkens in an attempt to prevent further DNA damage. Another correction is that UVA  is definitely a penetrating ray. It penetrates deeper than UVB rays (that cause reddening and sunburn) and is the dominate tanning ray that causes premature skin aging and wrinkling. The only truth spoken about tanning beds is that they emit more UVA rays which could be the reason why frequent tanning bed users are more likely to be diagnosed with squamous and basal cell carcinoma.

We know that UV rays are the primary environmental etiologic risk factor for skin cancer. That is the truth!

Join the discussion on our Facebook page. I would love to hear what you think about the surplus of unwanted tanning beds. Should the governement control the sell of them. Should we destroy them? Do you think they could end up in landfills, and if so what would be the effect of that?


Understanding UVA and UVB


Family Leisure