EXPOSURE to ultraviolet rays is particularly dangerous for young people, according to new findings from the World Health Organisation (WHO). The report also notes the absence of effective screening measures and proper legislation to protect users of solariums in Portugal.
The WHO recommends a ban on the use of artificial sun beds for people under the age of 18 and warns that the practice can lead to skin cancers. It notes that a quarter of users of solariums in Northern Europe are aged between 16 and 24, and highlights the increasing popularity of artificial tanning in Eastern European countries.
There are currently 132,000 new cases of melanoma, the most virulent form of skin cancer, every year. The WHO notes that “some solariums emit levels of ultraviolet stronger than the midday sun” but, in spite of this, it notes that few countries monitor artificial sunbathing.
One country operating stricter laws is France, where all equipment in solariums must be inspected by health authorities and under-18s are banned from using the facilities. French law also stipulates that trained personnel have to be present at all times.
The president of the Portuguese Society of Dermatology, Menezes Brandão, says that a similar ban on under-18s should be introduced in Portugal. He also calls for changes in the law to bring about inspections and says it is vital to bring to public knowledge the harmful consequences of artificial tanning.
Consumer organisation, DECO, investigated 25 solariums in Portugal and found that only nine informed users about necessary precautions – such as removing facial make-up and perfumes, and protecting eyes with goggles. Staff also failed to advise users about tailoring sessions according to their skin types and neglected to carry out health checks. For example, people suffering from herpes or lupus should not attend solariums at all.