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FDA proposes age, other restrictions for tanning beds

Teenagers under age 18 would not be permitted to use the beds, and all users over 18 would be asked to sign a waiver regarding the health risks they pose.

By Stephen Feller

SILVER SPRING, Md., Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed a rule barring minors from using tanning beds and requiring anyone over the age of 18 sign a waiver acknowledging the risks of using a tanning bed.

The agency also proposed several new regulations for manufacturers, among them the mandatory inclusion of an emergency shut-off button, improving eyewear, prohibiting device modifications, and making warnings more clearly visible.

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Tanning beds increase the risk for skin cancer by 59 percent, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, which has the agency worried about the 1.6 million minors who use tanning beds each year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 400,000 cases of skin cancer relate to tanning beds, and reports previous studies have shown the risk of melanoma increases with amount of time people have spent in the beds.

"The FDA understands that some adults may decide to continue to use sunlamp products," acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Ostroff said in a press release. "These proposed rules are meant to help adults make their decisions based on truthful information and to ensure manufacturers and tanning facilities take additional steps to improve the safety of these devices."

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In addition to restricting use of the beds to people 18 and older, the FDA said users would have to sign a risk acknowledgement certification that they are aware of tanning bed health risks before their first session and every six months after.

For manufacturers, instructions and warnings on beds and replacement bulbs would have to be larger and clearer, and modifications to beds would require recertification of the beds with the FDA. Stronger requirements would also be put on the amount of light permitted through protective eyewear, and all tanning beds would have to include an emergency shut-off switch or "panic button."

The FDA estimates the new rules, if adopted, would apply to 18,000 to 19,000 tanning salons and 15,000 to 20,000 health clubs, spas and other businesses that offer tanning, in addition to manufacturers of the beds and bulbs.

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