Maloney Offers Bill To Prevent Tanning Bed Cancers
Aiming to limit the amount of UV rays emitted by tanning beds and to reduce the time consumers may be exposed to harmful radiation in tanning salons, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) has introduced bipartisan legislation requiring the FDA to ensure that tanning devices accurately reflect the risks they create.
The legislation would also empower the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to act upon its own report’s suggestion to review and update the performance standards of tanning beds in the interests of consumers’ health.
The agency had acknowledged in a 2008 report to Congress that tanning bed standards were in need of reassessment, Maloney said.
Maloney declared, “Tanning beds are where cigarettes were in the 1950s, everyone knows they’re cancer-causing, and yet they are poorly regulated. Every year, almost 70,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed and 8,700 Americans die of the disease.
“Since the World Health Organization has reclassified tanning devices as carcinogenic to humans, it’s time for the FDA to reexamine its classification of the devices and that’s what this bill requires because doing so will help save lives.”
Republican Charles Dent of Pennsylvania, co-sponsor of the bill, stated, “Although melanoma is often preventable, American families continue to lose loved ones to this destructive form of skin cancer.”
Dent said the public must continue to be educated about the risks associated with too much exposure to UV light, especially from tanning beds.
Dent stated, “Our legislation ensures tanning bed standards are updated to minimize risk, and labels are positioned and worded to send a clear and prominent message about the real dangers associated with tanning.”
In July 2009, Maloney said, the World Health Organization raised the classification of the use of UV-emitting tanning devices to Group 1, placing tanning beds alongside tobacco, asbestos and uranium as a definite cause of cancer.
The Maloney-Dent legislation addresses the two sides of regulation: device classification for tanning beds that have yet to enter the market for consumer use and performance standards for tanning beds that are currently in circulation.
Maloney pointed out that tanning beds are currently listed by the FDA as Class I medical devices, characterized as posing minimal potential harm to users. Other examples of Class I medical devices are Band-Aids, tongue depressors, breast pumps and latex gloves.
The Maloney-Dent legislation will ask the FDA to reexamine the classification of tanning beds to ensure that it accurately reflects their technology and associated risks. Maloney notes a higher classification would make all newly developed devices subject to pre-market surveillance and evaluation.
“Performance Standards regulate the use of tanning beds, including the strength of the UV rays emitted from the lamp and the recommended amount of time a consumer should remain in the tanning bed,” Maloney said.
The standards that govern tanning bed use, she added, have not been updated since 1985 despite significant advances in technology during the last 25 years.