The State Government will move to regulate the use of solariums as concerns over the link to deadly skin cancers continue to grow.
Health Minister Jim McGinty said there was compelling evidence that people who used sunbeds or other solarium tanning devices increased their risk of skin cancer.
“It has been estimated that people who use a solarium could be doubling their chances of being diagnosed with a skin cancer,” Mr McGinty said.
“That risk is multiplied by three or four times if solarium use starts in adolescence.
“A 2007 report from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research found that people who had used solariums had a 22 per cent increase in the risk of developing melanoma and a 78 per cent increase in the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma.
“For people who had first used the machines when they were aged under 35, there was a 98 per cent increased risk of melanoma.
“In 2006, melanomas killed 83 Western Australian men and 45 women.
“About 11 per cent of adults report having used solariums, while about three per cent of adolescents report having used a solarium at least once.”
WA will join Victoria and South Australia as the first States to regulate the use of solariums. Currently the industry operates under a voluntary Australian Standard.
Under the new regulations:
· people under 18 years of age will be prohibited from using solaria;
· operators will be required to assess skin type and people with skin type one
(very fair, never tans) will not be allowed to use solaria;
· solarium operators must receive training;
· solarium use must be supervised by a trained operator;
· solarium users must give informed consent; and
· total exposure and/or frequency of repeat exposure in a solarium will be restricted.
Operators will be informed of the changes over the coming weeks. There will be a small grace period before compliance in most areas is enforced. A national training program is being developed and this is expected to be rolled out late in 2008.
Skin Type I Fair skin, always burns, never tans and is often accompanied by redness and freckles.
Skin Type II Fair skin, nearly always burns, slightly tans after repeated exposures.
Skin Type III Dark skin, seldom burns, increasingly tans after repeated exposures.
Skin Type IV Dark skin, hardly ever burns, tans deeply and quickly.
A survey conducted by the WA Department of Health found that at least 80 per cent of businesses were not in compliance with the voluntary Australian standard.
The Minister said he hoped people would see the regulations as a warning and would think twice before using the machines.
“The evidence is strong against children and fair skinned people using solaria. Therefore, there will be a prohibition on these people using solaria. Others will benefit from education, training and information about the health risks,” he said.
“It is also important that people don’t just turn instead to sunbaking.”
Cancer Council of WA Director of Education and Research Terry Slevin said the regulation would save lives.
“The Cancer Council’s position is clear,” Mr Slevin said.
“The best way to make the solarium industry safe is to ban it. These are dangerous machines and we do not encourage anyone to use them.
“And while banning solaria is not on the agenda today, we welcome this as an important step forward. Before today, there have been no enforceable conditions on how these machines are operated or what people are told about the dangers of using solaria. We are delighted that they will no longer be pushed to the most vulnerable people, those under 18 and people with fair skin which is most susceptible to damage from UV radiation.”
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