As a result of increasing concern over the use of artificial tanning units, many local government recreation departments are phasing out the use of sunbeds on their premises, resulting in some clients switching to high street parlours about which little is known. An Environmental Health survey was conducted in all 32 tanning premises within a local government area (Perth & Kinross, Scotland). A number of significant problems emerged in the private sector. In this group, there was no form of cumulative UV exposure control in 89% of premises and 81% failed to give adequate advice and information to customers. We conducted UV spectral irradiation measurements in 38 tanning units using a double grating spectroradiometer. When a carcinogenic weighting factor was applied to these measurements, it was found that a 10 min exposure in a high intensity stand-up cabinet carried the same carcinogenic risk as approximately 30 min of local (56 degrees North) mid-day summer sunlight or 10 min of Mediterranean sunlight at mid-day. A questionnaire completed by 57 customers revealed a wide pattern of usage; 6 (10%) had more than 20 h exposure in the previous 12 months and 3 (5%) had made regular use of sunbeds for the previous 16 to 20 years. These results indicate that there is a need for continuing public education and surveillance of commercial artificial tanning units.