Undercover investigation shows tanning salons breaking the law

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NEW YORK (PIX11) -- Deadly cases of melanoma have steadily increased during the past 30 years, with much of the blame placed on tanning beds which are now 15 times stronger than the sun itself.

The World Health Organization calls the beds cancer-causing devices. The FDA puts warning labels on them. New York state won’t allow anyone younger than 18 inside them.

So why is it these salons can easily break the law?

PIX11 News took two teens and undercover cameras into New York tanning salons to see if the shops follow the law.

One saleswoman, who tells the teen that she’s certified by the tanning industry, said tanning beds are no more harmful than the sun, or even dangerous at all. Both of which are false, according to experts.

“Tanning beds are dangerous,” said Dr. Jennifer Stein, with NYU Langone Medical Center. “It’s not a safe thing to go.”

Stein said she has seen melanoma cases skyrocket, saying that people who use tanning beds are at 75 percent higher risk of developing the incurable, deadly skin cancer.

“We’re seeing lots of melanoma in young women and we really think it’s from tanning beds,” Stein said.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney not only revised New York Laws, she’s introduced changes to laws across the U.S.  But the exclusive PIX 11 undercover investigation found tanning salons violating those rules since there are virtually no inspections.

Out of the 122 salons in Manhattan and the boroughs, only one inspection was done in the past 18 months. That shocked the crusading congresswoman.

“We need to enforce that they are putting their labels on and not allowing anyone under 17 to even get near the tanning machines,” she said.

So what really happens in salons?  Our teens said it’s only too easy to get in when underage.

Julia Malzone, 17, admitted that “all her friends do it.”

NY tries to protect young tanners from melanoma by mandating everyone signs a disclaimer and shows ID to tan.

But a saleswoman visited by PIX11’s cameras dismissed the warning form. We went back to ask about it and had the salon manager read us the first line of the waiver:

"Ultraviolet UV radiation is a human carcinogen and can cause skin cancer."

In fact, that Greenwich village salon broke most of the rules. It never checked IDs, let a 17-year-old tan, posted no warning signs in some tanning rooms and offered no eye protection.

A Beach bum location in Chelsea also let the 17-year-old break the rules, letting her buy a tanning session.

PIX11’s requests for comment from the Beach Bum location’s manager were not returned.


1 Comment

  • Shelly DeJaynes LaPlant

    “Stein said she has seen melanoma cases skyrocket, saying that people who use tanning beds are at 75 percent higher risk of developing the incurable, deadly skin cancer.” What is interesting is that you are using a statistic that has been debunked years ago. The majority of the sunbeds in that study were from Dermatologists offices administering phototherapy treatments. And home units that can be mis-used. That study found that phototherapy increased the risk by 96 percent and home units increased the risk by 40 percent, while professional salons increased the risk by 6 percent. What also interests me here is that you found two salons that were not abiding by the rules, and that somehow means that all salons do this. A reputable salon would not put their clients in danger and follow the safety measures in place. I am certain there are restaurants out there that have failed health inspections, does that mean all restaurants are unsafe? No. Professional salons limit how often and how long a person tans by their skin type. They require parental consent, or in states where there are age restrictions, they are not to tan. And let’s be real about the threat of melanoma. The risk of melanoma is less than 1 percent for non- tanners and tanners alike. Sunbeds are only 2-3 times stronger than the sun, not 15 times stronger. Do some research and you will find that much of what is reported about tanning is misleading and inaccurate.

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