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Friday, 11 April 2008 20:02

Artificial tanning in New South Wales will be restricted

New South Wales, Australia, is among the growing number of regions regulating and/or banning artificial tanning, commonly called solariums, tanning beds, or sunbeds.

Starting in January 1, 2009, government officials in New South Wales (NSW), a southeastern state of Australia, whose capital is Sydney, will have in place a comprehensive set of regulations for artificial tanning.

Specifically, the regulations will ban the use of solariums of anyone who is under eighteen years of age and very fair-skinned.

Fair-skinned people are those humans classified as "Type 1," or people who never or rarely tan; instead simply burn when exposed to sunlight.

The NSW government believes that artificial tanning is dangerous, especially to teenagers who are the highest users of solariums and to fair-skinned persons.

Officials with the NSW government have also criticized the federal government of Australia for not introducing legislation that would ban the practice of using artificially manufactured tanning devices.

As a result, the NSW government is going ahead with legislation to protect its citizens.

The southeastern Australian state of Victoria, the south central state of South Australia, and Western Australia have already enacted legislation ahead of NSW that regulates and/or bans artificial tanning.

What are solariums? What is tanning from sunlight? What is ultraviolet light, or radiation? Please read on.

Solariums are devices that emit ultraviolet radiation (UV)—with different amounts of UV-A and UV-B radiation being produced—so that humans can create a cosmetic darkening, or tanning, to their bodies.

The artificially created sunlight from solariums, similar to the rays from the Sun, use several fluorescent lamps containing phosphor, a material that glows (the act of phosphorescencing) after exposure to energized particles, such as electrons.

Whether by the Sun or solariums, tanning is a physiological response of the skin to the exposure of ultraviolet radiation.

Ultraviolet light (radiation) is part of the electromagnetic (EM) radiation spectrum, a range of different types of radiation including visible light, radio waves, x-rays, infrared, gamma radiation, and ultraviolet—all distinguished from each other because their waves have different lengths; that is, their wavelengths are different.

In particular, UV radiation has a wavelength shorter than that of visible light, but longer than soft x-rays. (Remember that radiation and light are interchangeable in meaning, so UV light = UV radiation.)

UV light, specifically UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C, is normally found in light that originates from the Sun. (All three types of UV light are different because their wavelengths are different.) UV radiation can also be artificially produced.

UV light can have beneficial effects to humans. However, scientists generally state that the risks far outnumber the benefits.

The ozone layer around the Earth absorbs much of the UV-B and UV-C light. Most of the UV light that reaches humans on the surface of Earth is UV-A light. The small amount of UV-B light that reaches humans helps to produce vitamin D in the body.

Health problems can occur when people do not have enough vitamin D in their bodies. So, UV-B can help people produce more vitamin D. However, most people get enough vitamin D through the drinking of milk, the eating and drinking of other diary products, and vitamins.

Many organizations do not recommend the use of UV tanning devices. Many individuals are against their use, too. Do you know who Clare Oliver was? Please read on.

Because of dangers associated with solariums, many international organizations do not recommend their use.

For instance, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend the use of UV tanning devices for cosmetic tanning purposes.

The Mayo Clinic (United States) states, “There is no safe tan. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation — whether from sunlight or tanning beds — damages your skin, increasing your risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging. In fact, malignant melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, has seen a sharp rise in recent years, perhaps due to the increased exposure to UV radiation from both the sun and tanning beds.”

Much of the regulations to solariums in Australia came about after the September 2007 death of 26-year-old skin cancer victim and anti-solarium advocate Clare Oliver in Melbourne.

Oliver was employed as a journalist by SBS television but was soon thereafter diagnosed with melanoma. She became an activist against the use of solariums after years of sunbathing and solarium use while growing up.

She died on September 13, 2007, just days after her twenty-sixth birthday.

Please read her article “A Tan to Die For,” which appeared at News.com.au on August 23, 2007.

In the article “Cancer campaigner Clare Oliver dies,” by The Age, Oliver’s mother stated, “I think her legacy will be that we have a very strong message to send to all Australians about the risk of excessive sun exposure and about the risk of solariums."

Her doctor, Grant McArther, stated, "This is a dangerous industry and they should be discouraging people from partaking in solarium use."

David Hill, a cancer advocate, stated in The Age article that the number of visits to solariums in Melbourne, Australia, has increased by five hundred percent over the past ten years.

The article “Solarium ban for fair skin, minors”, in the Sydney Morning Herald, stated that representatives with the NSW government found that use of solariums in NSW was most frequently done by teenagers, with a rate of about 12 percent.

In another study, the Queensland Institute of Medical Research performed a scientific study that showed people under the age of thirty-five years who were regular users of solariums had a 98% increased risk of developing melanoma as compared to people who did not use solariums.

Louisa Gordon, an author of the Queensland study stated that artificial tanning is not safe. She is quoted to have said, "The sunbeds can emit very strong levels of radiation, stronger than the midday sun in Brisbane.” [Sydney Morning Herald: “Solarium ban for fair skin, minors”]

What is melanoma? Please read on.

Melanoma, the cancer that killed 26-year-old anti-solarium activist Clare Oliver, is a malignant form of cancer that usually occurs in the skin but can also occur in the bowel and the eyes.

It causes about 75% of all skin cancer deaths. Melanoma comes about when pigment cells, called melanocytes, begin to grow uncontrollably.

Melanocytes are the cells that produce the tanning effect in humans when exposed to sunlight.

Each year about 160,000 new cases of melanoma occur around the world. It is most common in fair skinned people who live in sunny climates.

The World Health Organization estimates that about 48,000 people die each year from melanoma related deaths.

The Clare Oliver Melanoma Fund was created to the memory of Oliver and to fight melanoma.

According to the website, “The Clare Oliver Melanoma Fund has been established to honour the courage and bravery of Clare Oliver. 100% of proceeds from the fund will be directed to Melanoma research, focusing on research collaborations between leading melanoma research and treatment centres.”

Please research solariums before attempting to use one. If you decide to use one, at least be informed at to what you are exposing your body to when the UV light is turned on.


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