New Rules for Indoor Tanning in Sweden – Now Age limit 18 Years.
From September 1, 2018, it is not allowed to let people under the age of 18 sunbathe in a cosmetic solarium in Sweden. This is stated in Chapter 7. 6 and 7 of the Radiation Protection Act (2018: 396). The provisions are aimed at those who professionally do business with cosmetic solarium.
The provisions not to allow anyone under the age of 18 to sunbathe in a cosmetic solarium can be fulfilled either by providing solarium services with on-site staff controlling the age of customers or by using a technical solution that ensures that only customers over the age of 18 can access to the solariums. It is not enough to inform about the age limit through the sign indicating the 18-year limit that must be seen visibly by the cosmetic solarium.
The new rules for indoor tanning issued by The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten) will come into force on February 1st 2013.
15-minute limit for tanning-sessions but no age-limitations
The good news is that the new Swedish tanning rules do not contain any age-limitations, which many tanning salon operators feared they would. Since almost all tanning salons in Sweden are self-serviced, an age-limitation would have been very difficult to implement and enforce.
Instead the new Swedish regulations for indoor tanning contain a 15 minute time-limit for every tanning-session. This questionable initiative is the first of its kind in the world and goes against the European standard for UV Type 3 sunbeds which demands a maximum 60 minute timer.
This is how the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority describes the new rule about maximum tanning session time:
“All “cosmetic sunbeds” in unmanned tanning salons) shall have a timer that automatically shuts off the power-supply to the sunbed after 15 minutes of use.”
A rule about tanning cosmetics will bring confusion and harm to indoor tanning customers
The new Swedish indoor tanning rules include two more, in my opinion totally insane, rules which disclose the sun-fear inspired but uneducated intention of the authorities.
One is a clause about cosmetics which translates approximately like this:
“In a business where cosmetic sunbed are leased to the public, it must not be provided or conveyed cosmetic or hygiene products that are intended to be applied to the skin before UV-exposure which may enhance the effects of ultraviolet radiation.”
Clearly inspired by the regulations in France about tanning cosmetics in tanning salons, this instruction reveals a serious lack of knowledge about the real purpose of indoor tanning lotions. In the defense of the Radiation Safety Authority can be said that they probably meant cosmetics which might increase the photo-sensitivity of the skin, which is something radically different from lotions that facilitate the natural human response to UV-exposure.
We all know that modern lotions for indoor tanning have the purpose of providing the best possible conditions for the skin to receive UV-light in the most efficient way. Many tanning lotions also give an additional cosmetic bronzing effect. All together this means that a darker tan can be achieved with shorter exposure times, something which ought to be encouraged by the authorities given that the overall purpose of the new rules is to reduce the risk of burning by reducing the session time.
The lack of clear definition of “may enhance the effects of ultraviolet radiation“, combined with the fact that the supervision of the new rules for indoor tanning in Sweden now will be delegated to each regional municipal health-unit, anticipates a lot of ad-hoc, irrational and uneducated enforcements of this rule.
This is how Roland Laurent, the General Director of “Ultra Tan”, the largest manufacturer of sunbeds in Sweden, describes his view on this rule in a letter to Ultra Tan’s customers:
“There have been a lot of questions about SSM's “ban on the sale of tanning cosmetics”. From Ultra Tan's side, we have already made a major review of most of our lotions and we can conclude that with a few exceptions, our creams can be sold in the future. We will send out information on approved lotions to all municipal inspectors on Environment and Health. This issue will also make SSF [the Swedish Sunbed Association] to act as it surely is in conflict with EU rules on free movement of goods.”
In Swedish language the word for “tan” and “sunburn” is the same (“solbränna”). This semantic insufficiency does not exactly facilitate the definition of this strange regulation.
How a state authority tries to prevent business owners to tell the truth about their services.
Finally, and strangely enough not included in the basic new regulation but rather in a side-letter to the local municipal health authorities, there is a phrase about the marketing of cosmetic tanning which translates something like this in English:
“Customers should not be lured to sunbathe for Vitamin D: Cosmetic tanning beds are meant to tan skin brown. Businesses that offer cosmetic tanning beds to the public shall do it purely for cosmetic purposes and not to achieve therapeutic effects. The clear definitions of cosmetic and medical solariums make Radiation Act penalties possible if such promotion anyhow does occur. Tanning customers should not be enticed with medical pretenses to use cosmetic tanning beds, and deliberate offering of cosmetic tanning beds for medical purposes can lead to penalties.”
Here we have another example of illogical influence which follows a general trend among the sun-scare lobbyists to uphold the lie that indoor tanning has only cosmetic benefits.
The questions are what they are afraid of and who they are trying to protect when writing something like that?
Could they be afraid of that if all Swedes would discover that they will get healthier by visiting a sun-bed twice a week, they would need less of the public “illness-care” (this is the suitable name of health-care in Sweden) that brings in huge profits to the companies providing it and enormous cost for the tax-payers?
Whatever the reason, it is a very bad trend when state authorities try to prevent business-owners from telling the truth about their services.
What is a UV Type 3 sunbed and can it provide vitamin D tanning?
In Sweden, just like in all other Scandinavian countries, sunbeds must be of UV Type 3, which, according to the European Standard EN 60335-2-27 means that: “appliances may be used by unskilled persons”.
In terms of irradiation it means a limit for UV type 3 sunbeds of 0.15 W/m2 for both the effective UVB and UVA irradiances, the total effective CIE-weighted irradiance being 0.30 W/m2.
This is half of the allowed irradiation for most other countries in Europe but still it is quite possible to have enough UVB in the lamps in order to get both a good delayed pigmentation (melanin-stimulation) and vitamin D.
A recent study shows that a decent amount of vitamin D can be had from sessions of only 10 minutes in a sunbed with as little as 0.8% UVB (in relation to UVA according to the European standard, which corresponds to approximately 2% UVB in North-America).
Therefore, the new 15 minute limit for sunbeds in Sweden will not have any negative impact on vitamin D tanning.
Here is an image from a study in Norway which describes what kind of sunlight the UV Type 3 corresponds to (just to compare, Anchorage in Alaska, is located at 61 degrees north, approximately like the cities in Southern Norway mentioned in the table below).
As you can see it is quite possible to get both a tan and vitamin D with UV Type 3 sunbeds. Let’s hope that more and more people will understand that there are no increased health-risks but rather plenty of health benefits to be had from regular and non-burning tanning sessions in sunbeds.