Ultraviolet radiation (UV)

Artificial tanning sunbeds: risk and guidance


sunbeds cover

Publication details

Number of pages: 20
Publication date: 2003
Languages: English, French, Portuguese
ISBN: 9241590807



Sunbeds emit UVA and UVB radiation. In general, sunbeds predominantly emit UVA radiation, which is thought to be the least damaging of the UV radiation spectrum. However in recent years, sunbeds have been manufactured that produce higher levels of UVB to mimic the solar spectrum and speed the tanning process.

Overexposure to UV radiation from the sun and artificial sources is of considerable public health concern. UV radiation plays an important role in the development of skin cancer, cataracts, and other eye conditions, and suppresses the immune system. Cumulative UV radiation also results in premature skin ageing.

While WHO does not recommend the use of UV tanning devices for cosmetic purposes, it is recognized that sunbeds continue to be available to the public.

This practical guide, prepared by Craig Sinclair, WHO, is intended for government health authorities, to assist them in the development of public health policy in relation to sunbeds.