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There is such a thing as a healthy tan: Sunbeds are no riskier than outdoor UV exposure


02 Dec 2016


Health & Consumers

The European Sunlight Association, the voice of the European indoor tanning industry takes issue with the conclusions by a committee of European scientists regarding the effects on health of UV light. “We have serious reasons to doubt the credibility of a report that reflects such patent bias against indoor tanning”, ESA Secretary General Frank Harbusch said. There is no scientific evidence that sunbeds taken in isolation increase the risk of melanoma. “The report’s failure to acknowledge this should encourage the European Commission to assess such ’scientific advice’ with great caution.”


Brussels, 30 November – The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) has just published its final opinion on “biological effects of ultraviolet radiation relevant to health with particular reference to sunbeds for cosmetic purposes”. The opinion had been requested by the Commission, to update a previous scientific report from 2006.

“Sunbeds present the same positive effects and potential risks as exposure to natural sunlight”, Harbusch stressed. Controlled and moderate exposure to sunlight is beneficial, whether indoors or outdoors; there is such a thing as a healthy tan! “No studies have proven sunbeds present a greater risk than outdoor UV exposure, and SCHEER has found no empirical proof either.” An obvious reason for that is that many primary factors affect melanoma trends and these include family history with skin cancer, sunburns, especially at an early age, or moles.

On top of that SCHEER’s opinion is largely based on studies carried out before the entry into force of the current irradiation limit for sunbeds in Europe, which are already regulated and limited to an intensity equivalent to that of the Mediterranean summer sun (0,3W/m²). “This is by far the strictest limit on UV irradiance in the world”, Harbusch added. “Large numbers of European citizens spend their holidays under the tropical or sub-tropical sun, and typically do not use suncreens properly. If one is serious about consumers’ safety, the priority should be to address the risk of over-exposure to the sun”.

Since a 2007 mandatory standard has been in place (EN60335-2-27), the industry has adapted both its products and customer communications. To ensure not only product safety, but also a responsible use of sunbeds, ESA and its members have taken additional self-driven initiatives. Most recently, the ESA introduced a new European Standard on training & service provision in cooperation with European standardisation bodies CENELEC and the Austrian Standards Institute (ASI) (EN16489). ESA also developed a certification, training and labelling scheme for this new standard to facilitate its national implementation. ESA has always been and continues to be dedicated to ensure responsible tanning in the EU and work hand in hand with the EU and Member State national authorities towards that goal. A copy of our industry commitment can be read/downloaded here.

“Consumer safety will be best and most efficiently enhanced by ensuring the strict implementation of mandatory standards across Europe” said Harbusch. “ESA has always been and continues to be ready to cooperate with EU policy-makers to promote fast adoption and implementation of safety standards on sunbeds, including via new Joint Market Surveillance actions”.



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