April 20, 2005
Solariums are not as safe as first thought
How safe are solariums? Two women claim they were burnt, blistered and in pain after using a beauty salon sunbed.
The solarium business sector is booming with a 600 per cent increase in the number of solaria operating in Australia in the past 10 years.
Suria Ward and Elisha Enjakovic, both in their early 20's, believed solariums were a safer alternative to sunbathing.
"They said it's better than going under the sun, they say it's a safe way to tan," Ms Enjakovic said.
Julie Hassard, from The Cancer Council of Australia and SunSmart program manager, said a lot of people think solariums are a safe way to tan but they are not.
"In fact solariums can emit levels of UV radiation that are five times higher than that of the midday summer sun," Ms Hassard said.
[Related story: Solarium cancer threat
In Ms Enjakovic's case her skin turned red within 24 hours of using a sunbed at her local beauty salon.
"I bloated up and put on four kilos because of the fluid," Ms Enjakovic said.
"It was so distressing I reckon I probably would have burnt four layers of skin it was that bad," she added.
Ms Ward also had a blistering experience with large sores resulting from only 20 minutes lying on the sunbed.
"I'm pretty devastated about not being able to wear my dress for the engagement party, probably that's the worst bit of it all and the physical pain," Ms Ward said.
The salon advised TT they now have precautions in place for the use of their sunbed and they are taking the matter up with their manufacturer.
The Federal government's radiation health committee recommends that fair-skinned people and people with red hair who freckle should not use solaria.
The more UV exposure you receive when you are young the greater the risk of skin cancer when you are older.
Children under 15 years of age are banned from using solariums while those under 18 can only do so with parental permission.
But a recent survey revealed more than half of the 16 year olds freely accessed solariums without the consent of a parent.
The survey also revealed 90 per cent of people with fair skin used tanning beds, oblivious to the national health and safety warnings.
Ms Enjakovic said people wanting a tan should not use a sunbed.
"I would never use one again," she added.
The Cancer Council of Australia: www.cancer.org.au
Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency: www.arpansa.gov.au
Australian Solarium Association: www.solariumassociation.info