Survey of the variation in ultraviolet outputs from ultraviolet A sunbeds in Bradford

Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 1996 Feb;12(1):12-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0781.1996.tb00237.x.


Concerns have been expressed for some time regarding the growth of the cosmetic suntanning industry and the potential harmful effects resulting from these exposures. Recently published work has appeared to confirm a link between sunbed use and skin cancer. A previous survey in Oxford some years ago demonstrated significant output variations, and we have attempted to extend and update that work. Ultraviolet A, UVB and blue-light output measurements were made on 50 sunbeds using a radiometer fitted with broad-band filters and detectors. A number of irradiance measurements were made on each sunbed within each waveband so that the uniformity of the output could also be assessed. UVA outputs varied by a factor of 3, with a mean of 13.5 mW/cm2; UVB outputs varied by a factor of 60, with a mean of 19.2 microW/cm2; and blue-light outputs varied by a factor of 2.5, with a mean of 2.5 mW/cm2. Outputs fall on average to 80% of the central value at either end of the sunbed. Facial units in sunbeds ranged in output between 18 and 45 mW/cm2. Output uniformity shows wide variation, with 16% of the sunbeds having an axial coefficient of variation > 10%. UVB output is highly tube-specific. Eyewear used in sunbeds should also protect against blue light.

MeSH terms

  • Beauty Culture / instrumentation*
  • Heliotherapy / instrumentation
  • Humans
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiometry
  • Ultraviolet Rays*