Regulators in the US are proposing to restrict use of sunlamp products such as indoor tanning beds and booths to adults aged 18 and over. The proposal is currently under public consultation. If it becomes final, indoor tanning facilities will not be allowed to use indoor tanning devices on people under age 18.

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US regulators are seeking to ban indoor tanning bed use for under-18s and impose stricter safety rules on sunlamp manufacturers.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also want manufacturers to do more to improve the overall safety of indoor tanning devices to protect adult consumers.

Indoor tanning devices increase exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and raise risk of eye injury, skin damage and skin cancer – including melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer – says the US regulator in a Consumer Update.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exposure to UV radiation can also lead to cataracts and cancers of the eye (ocular melanoma).

The effects of exposure to UV radiation build up over a person’s lifetime, so if they start when they are a teenager, they are at much greater risk of skin and eye damage later in life.

The American Academy of Dermatology say people who are exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning lamps are 59% more likely to develop melanoma than people who have never used such devices.

Dr. Markham C. Luke, deputy office director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, and a practicing dermatologist, says:

There is increasing evidence that indoor tanning during childhood and early adult life increases the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma. Hundreds of youth also are injured each year across the country due to using sunlamp products.”

The FDA are also proposing that tanning services must inform adult users about the health risks of indoor tanning and get them to sign a certificate to say they understand the risks.

Adult users would sign the certificate before their fist indoor tanning session and every 6 months thereafter.

The FDA say the point of the certification is to make sure indoor tanning providers give truthful and easy-to-read information to consumers. It would also help adults make informed decisions.

According to the CDC, every year, on average, injuries related to indoor tanning account for over 3,000 visits to emergency rooms in the US. Over 400 of such cases involve patients under 18 years of age.

Indoor tanning products already have to carry a black box warning to say they should not be used by under-18s.

The new FDA proposal covers two rules. One is the restricted sale, distribution and use of sunlamp products. The other, an amendment to the performance standard for sunlamp products, applies to manufacturers.

The proposed rule for manufacturers seeks a number of requirements, such as improvements to warning statements and eye safety, labeling on replacement bulbs, reducing risk of accidental burns, and preventing device modifications without re-certification.

The proposed rule also would also require all sunlamp products to have a “panic button” or emergency shut off switch that the user can locate easily by touch or sight.

Both proposed rules are open for public review for 90 days from December 21, 2015. Comments may be submitted online at the FDA regulations website.

Dr. Luke says they will review all comments as part of the rule-making process and urges:

We want to hear from all users and their families, as well as from manufacturers, business owners and other stakeholders who might have comments.”

The FDA move follows an announcement that Medical News Today reported earlier this year where doctors writing in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine said it is time to push the message that UV tanning causes skin cancer rather than being merely associated with it.