Tanning Hazards Information Sheet

  • The Tanning Hazards Information Sheet is available both English and Spanish in Portable Document Format (PDF)

New York State Department of Health regulations require that tanning facility operators provide you with the following information so that you can make an informed judgement about indoor tanning and the use of tanning facilities.

What is tanning?

Tanning is the body's response when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The skin becomes damaged and produces extra pigment to protect itself against the UV radiation. This pigment makes the skin look darker.

What is UV radiation?

UV radiation is a form of energy from natural sunlight or from a tanning device such as a sunlamp, tanning booth or tanning bed that is not visible to the human eye. It is classified as carcinogenic to humans and can cause cancer.

What are the health risks associated with tanning?

  • Health risks associated with tanning:
    • Skin cancer
    • Burns and injury to the skin and eyes
    • Premature aging of the skin
    • Allergic reactions
    • Worsen existing medical conditions
    • Immune suppression
  • Factors that put you at increased risk for developing skin cancer:
    • Lighter natural skin
    • Family or personal history of skin cancer
    • History of sunburn early in life
    • Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or is painful in the sun
    • Blue or green eyes and blond or red hair
    • Certain types and/or a large number of moles

Are indoor tanning devices safer than tanning in natural sunlight?

No. The UV radiation produced by indoor tanning devices can cause the same damage to the skin as natural sunlight. Exposure to UV radiation, whether from an indoor tanning device or from natural sunlight, increases health risks for everyone.

Avoid indoor tanning if:

  • You burn easily and don't usually tan in natural sunlight.
  • You get frequent cold sores. UV radiation can lead to common light-sensitive ailments.
  • You have medical conditions like lupus and vitiligo. UV radiation can worsen symptoms.
  • You are immune suppressed. UV radiation can be more hazardous.
  • You eat certain foods or use certain cosmetics or medications that can make your skin burn more easily. This reaction is called "photosensitivity". Ask the tanning facility operator or employee for a list of these items.

For persons who choose to expose themselves UV radiation from indoor tanning devices:

  • Always wear FDA-certified protective eyewear. If you don't have your own FDA-certified protective eyewear, request it from the tanning facility operator or employee.
  • Learn your skin type and understand the exposure limits recommended by the manufacturer of the tanning device.
  • Seek medical attention for severe burns, allergic reactions and unusual skin lesions or sores.
  • Report any injuries or adverse reactions promptly to the tanning facility operator or employee.

Tanning access by minors:

Effective August 15, 2012, New York State Public Health Law prohibits persons under seventeen (17) years of age from using UV radiation devices. It requires that persons seventeen (17) years of age have a parent or legal guardian sign a consent form before using UV radiation devices. Persons eighteen (18) years of age or older must provide a driver's license or other photo identification, issued by a government entity or educational institution, before using UV radiation devices.

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