The European Sunlight Association, the voice of the European indoor tanning industry, disagrees with the conclusions regarding the effects on health of UV light by a committee of European scientists. “We are astonished by the lack of balance in the draft report”, ESA Secretary General Frank Harbusch said. “It is incomprehensible that a group of eminent scientists should so blatantly ignore the beneficial effects of UV radiations. Controlled and moderate exposure to sunlight is beneficial, whether indoors or outdoors. In fact, human beings need sunlight!”
The “Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks” (SCENIHR), an advisory group to the European Commission, has just published its draft opinion on “Biological effects of UV radiation relevant to health with particular reference to sunbeds for cosmetic purposes”. The opinion had been requested by the Commission, to update a previous study from 2006. The preliminary opinion is now open for comment.
“We will carefully assess the SCENIHR scientific opinion and will react in detail”, Harbusch stressed. “If the biological effects of sunlight were all negative, humankind would have been wiped out long ago. Over exposure to UV radiation — whether from the sun or from a sunbed — clearly can be dangerous, just like many others types of excessive behaviour. However, no studies have proven sunbeds to be riskier than outdoor UV exposure. Both emit the same type of light, and it is therefore extremely difficult to distinguish the role played by each when trying to assess the reasons for adverse health effects. Furthermore, it can be assumed that most individuals spend much more time in the sun than on a sunbed. Allocating potential risks mainly to sunbed use is just not logical.”
Sunbeds are used mainly for cosmetic purposes and above all because they make people feel better. Sunshine can be absent for long periods in many parts of Europe, and sunbeds can thus contribute to people’s wellbeing. “ESA stands for responsible indoor tanning”, Harbusch recalled. “Our members’ sunbeds comply with regulation. Moreover, we have a code of conduct which obliges sunbed operators to give advice to clients based on their skin type and to ensure that no-one gets over-exposed.”
ESA’s most recent initiative is a European training and operations standard, elaborated in cooperation with CENELEC (one of the main European standardization bodies) and the Austrian Standards Institute (ASI). The standard aims to contribute to further strengthening consumer information, protection and safety with regard to indoor tanning services. It defines the requirements for training courses for sunbed operators as well as for the services provided in a tanning facility.
Further information can be found on our website www.europeansunlight.eu