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  5. Sunlamps and Sunlamp Products (Tanning Beds/Booths)
  1. Home, Business, and Entertainment Products

Sunlamps and Sunlamp Products (Tanning Beds/Booths)

The FDA wants consumers to know that UV radiation in tanning devices poses serious health risks. A 2009 report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, concludes that tanning devices are more dangerous than previously thought. Exposure to UV radiation, whether from the sun or indoor tanning beds, can cause:

  • Skin cancer
  • Skin burns
  • Premature skin aging
  • Eye damage (both short- and long-term)

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Sunlamp products are medical devices and electronic products designed to use one or more ultraviolet lamp(s) and are intended for irradiation of any part of the living human body, by ultraviolet radiation with wavelengths in air between 200 and 400 nanometers, to induce skin tanning. Sunlamp products include portable home units, table top models, tanning beds and tanning booths and are subject to FDA medical device labeling requirements and special controls, as well as an electronic product performance standard (21 CFR 1040.20).

The ultraviolet lamps, also subject to the performance standard, produce radiation within a prescribed range of wavelengths and are intended for use in sunlamp products.

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Sunlamp products for indoor UV tanning may incorporate different types of fluorescent lamps, reflector spot (RS) or High Intensity Discharge (HID) with different levels of energy output and radiation at different wavelengths.

The FDA recognizes these products as hazardous and that they produce over 3,000 hospital emergency room cases a year. This number is based on the average yearly estimate of injuries for 2003 and 2012 (the most recent years for which data are available). It is likely that the actual number of injuries may be higher because this estimate only includes cases that are initially treated in US hospital emergency departments and reported to a central database. This estimate does not include cases that are treated in outpatient clinics, physicians' offices, not medically treated, or not reported.

(Source: National estimates for tanning bed/booth-related injuries, 2003 and 2012 are from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System – All Injury Program operated by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission in collaboration with the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), CDC. Estimates were computed by the Office of Statistics and Programming, NCIPC, CDC.)

Overexposure to sunlamps and/or sunlamp products can cause eye and skin injury and allergic reactions. Repeated exposure may cause premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.

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Information for the Public

To ensure that consumers are appropriately educated about the risks associated with the use of sunlamp products and UV lamps, the FDA requires warnings on product labeling and in promotional materials. One of the warnings includes a recommendation stating, “Attention: This sunlamp product should not be used on persons under the age of 18 years."

However, because people under age 18 are especially at risk, the FDA has proposed to restrict tanning facility operators from allowing use of the device by consumers under 18 years old. In addition to the age restriction, the FDA has proposed that tanning facility operators must obtain a signed, FDA-prescribed risk acknowledgement certification before use and then every 6 months thereafter. The proposed risk acknowledgement certificate states that the user has been informed of the risks to health that may result from use of sunlamp products.  The proposed restriction is available here: https://www.fda.gov/about-fda/economic-impact-analyses-fda-regulations/summary-general-and-plastic-surgery-devices-restricted-sale-distribution-and-use-sunlamp-products.

The term "suntanning preparations" includes gels, creams, liquids, and other topical products that are intended to provide cosmetic effects on the skin while tanning through exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation (such as moisturizing or conditioning products) or to give the appearance of a tan by imparting color to the skin through the application of approved color additives, such as dihydroxyacetone, without the need for exposure to UV radiation and are not medical devices.

Because such products include those sold for use at the beach or for use in tanning salons, consumers are strongly encouraged to read carefully the labeling of all tanning products to determine whether or not they provide protection against the harmful effects of UV radiation.

For more information, see Tanning.

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Laws, Regulations & Standards

Manufacturers of electronic radiation emitting products sold in the United States are responsible for compliance with the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), Chapter V, Subchapter C - Electronic Product Radiation Control.

Manufacturers of sunlamps and sunlamp products are responsible for compliance with all applicable requirements of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations, including but not limited to, Subchapter J (Radiological Health), Parts 1000 through 1005:

1000 - General

1002 - Records and Reports

1003 - Notification of defects or failure to comply

1004 - Repurchase, repairs, or replacement of electronic products

1005 - Importation of electronic products

In addition, sunlamps and sunlamp products must comply with electronic product performance standards in Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations (Subchapter J, Radiological Health) Parts 1010 and 1040.20:

1010 - Performance standards for electronic products: general

1040.20 - Performance Standard for Sunlamp and Sunlamp Products.

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Required Reports for the Sunlamps and Sunlamp Products Manufacturers or Industry

Industry Guidance - Other Documents of Interest

Other Resources

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