“[The endorsement] was in recognition that skin cancer is the most common cancer, and that ultraviolet radiation, whether it comes from the sun or artificial tanning equipment, is known to be carcinogenic,” said Dr. Graham Pollett, medical officer of health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
“Before [the proposal] goes forward they asked we hold a meeting with the tanning industry to seek their input,” he added.
All of the Board’s recommended measures fall in line with World Health Organization guidelines, Pollett said.
“We are asking to restrict tanning equipment to people 18 and over, [have] client consent forms for all persons, posting of warning notices on tanning salons and tanning equipment, posting for maximum exposure time and how much UV light each piece of equipment is producing, and mandatory training for operators and staff,” he added.
While the cancerous effects of tanning beds are not immediately noticeable to individuals when they are young, they become more apparent with age, said Laura Wall, manager for the Elgin-Middlesex unit of the Canadian Cancer Society.
“There are different types of skin cancer. Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common form and is very curable if treated early.
“Malignant melanoma is a more serious form. There are different types, and it is found not just on the outside of skin but also on other less visible areas. It is less visible and therefore more fatal,” she said.
Wall also said there is no such thing as a safe tan, regardless of what companies promote.
“One of the concerns with artificial tanning is the intensity you receive the UV rays. Different people can handle different levels of UV intensity, but there is no level of certainty yet, so why would you take the risk?” she said.
In other parts of the country, regulations have been created for artificial tanning equipment, Pollett said.
“In New Brunswick and Saskatchewan they have provincial pieces of legislation that relate to artificial tanning equipment, and Victoria is in a similar process as us,” he said.
Currently, the CCS is working with public health officials, researchers and epidemiologists to develop a common initiative for artificial tanning equipment.
“We want to make sure health professionals and people who can influence policy are aware of information. They can use that information to influence the general public about dangers of using tanning equipment and influence stronger legislation,” Wall said.