Thursday, November 8, 2012

What Happens to the Tanning Beds?

Sometime last year, I shared that our family hair stylist closed downthe tanning portion of their business.  Two tanning beds, one tanning booth, and one leg tanner were shut down!  However, the machines have remained in place for over a year.  I finally decided to ask why they still haunted the back section of the building (although gathering dust rather than causing cancer).  I was told that the owner was having trouble getting rid of the machines.  Apparently, there just is not as many people starting up tanning businesses as there used to be.  I suppose this is a cause for celebration.  Or caution.

I wondered where one tries to sell unwanted goods.  In the case of personal garage sales, the newspaper classified would be the logical choice.  But then again, classified ads are becoming a thing of the past thanks to internet sites such as Craigslist.  So, I decided to take a peek and see if maybe closing tanning salons were offloading their equipment on Craigslist.

Most definitely yes.  Here’s a sample of today’s ads:
In short, it looks like at least one tanning bed is posted per day in the Raleigh area alone.  When I dug in a little more, the prices range from a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars.  Overall, the cost was relatively cheap compared to new units.

Out of curiosity, I decided to respond to a few of ads.  I used an alias name (Mel Carson) and mentioned that I was shopping for a tanning bed for my daughter and asked if there were any regulations regarding radiation control.  (Yeah, I felt dirty typing the emails)  Here’s the most detailed answer I received:

There are no regulations if you have a personal tanning bed in your home. Of course, you know to never exceed 20 minutes in a tanning bed in one day. The bed does have a 20 minute timer on it and a built in fan. You can set the time for as little as 2 minutes to 20 minutes. Always start out slow, usually 7 minutes to see your skin reaction. Then gradually increase to the full 20 minute time frame. It takes a 220 amp for hookup. I use tanning bed cleaning solution that I buy at Sally's beauty supply store, it's really cheap.  Me and my daughters have really enjoyed it, but they are older now and have new interests, lol! The bed really is good, we have one bulb out but it really hasn't made any difference with tanning. Bulbs are ordered on line when you replace them. I would just keep tanning until I needed more replaced which should be a while!

I was pleased that this person mentioned time limits and some sense of caution, but very displeased to read that her daughters were “older now and have new interests.”  To me, this says her daughters were in their teens, maybe even early teens when they used the bed.  Not good.  I was also surprised to read that Sally’s sells the tanning bed cleaning solution.  Tsk tsk.  But I digress.

I was suspicious about there being no regulations for home tanning beds, so I contacted the North Carolina Radiation Section of the Division of Health Services…the people who regulate tanning salons.  They confirmed that there are no regulations for those individuals who own tanning equipment for personal use.

This doesn’t surprise me.  Despite regulations on cigarette and wine sales, it’s legal to make your own at home for personal use without any type of home inspection.  I’m not opposed to that at all…I once made my own beer from a kit.  It tasted like crap, but I made it.  But my concern is that folks who are able to buy these industrial tanning beds for pennies on the dollar will not properly monitor their own use.  Also, they’ll not properly maintain the equipment causing all kinds of potential risks to their own health.

The point of this post is not to warn folks against buying used tanning beds. (Those who will do so don’t read this blog anyhow).  While we’re advocating the elimination of tanning beds (at least preventing use by minors), let’s not forget that raising awareness about the dangers should be our most important mission.  The only way to prevent the redistribution of the cancer coffins is to educate folks as to why such usage is a bad idea.  Changing a cultural mindset is a daunting and frustrating task that could take years, but it’s a task well worth taking on.

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