FDA proposes new rule for tanning beds

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Although they ve been around for years, tanning beds have thus far escaped much regulation even though the American Academy of Dermatology has stated that they cause a 75 percent increase in the risk of the dangerous skin cancer melanoma. Further, the Academy says the risk increases with each use.

The FDA this week proposed extensive changes to the way indoor tanning facilities are regulated. First, it would require a warning be posted describing the risks of tanning particularly for those younger than 18 years. Second, it reclassifies sunlamp products as moderate risk (class II) devices they are currently considered class I (low risk). This classification would require manufacturers to submit pre-market notifications to the FDA. In addition, their devices would have to meet specified design characteristics and performance tests.

Interested parties will have the opportunity to submit comments to the FDA on this proposed rule for 90 days before the rule is published in final form.

This proposed rule makes a lot of sense, says ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross. While it doesn t prohibit indoor tanning, it provides some assurance that the equipment is reliable, and that users are aware of the health risks involved.