Add To Favorites
Story County ordinance could ban minors from using tanning beds; Stakeholders meeting to be held Wednesday
Ames Tribune - 2/17/2021
Story County is considering setting new age requirements for tanning salons, a move a local dermatologist says could prevent cancer.
The proposed tanning ordinance targets tanning facilities that use ultraviolet light and, if passed, would require customers to be over the age of 18. A similar move in Scott County last year received criticism from impacted businesses that, especially around prom and homecoming seasons, see a lot of minors wanting tans.
A stakeholders meeting on the potential requirements will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday, virtually due to COVID-19.
“I equate tanning for the skin to smoking to the lungs,” Dr. Tim Hansen, a dermatologist at McFarland Clinic, said. “Every time someone smokes tobacco, there are carcinogens in that smoke that damage the DNA and lung cells, and that can over time lead to lung cancer development.
“The earlier the DNA damage starts, the longer that damage has to percolate, if you will, and lead to skin cancer development throughout one’s lifetime.”
The regulation comes after the Iowa Department of Public Health stopped contracting with counties to provide facility inspections due to staffing and funding shortfalls, Story County Environmental Health Department director Margaret Jaynes wrote in an email.
“In order to continue our tanning facility inspection program, we were advised by the assistant county attorney to propose a county ordinance that would set the minimum tanning facility requirements,” Jaynes wrote.
The Board of Health will vote on the new requirements April 6, and if passed, the regulation will go to the Board of Supervisors.
Iowa is one of seven U.S. states with no restrictions on tanning bed use, according to the Story County Environmental Health Department. Neighbors Missouri and Nebraska require parental permission while Illinois and Minnesota prohibit all minors from ultraviolet tanning.
A 2015 bill banning minors from tanning bed use passed in the Iowa Senate but never made it to law.
Scott County supervisors voted early last year to restrict tanning to people over the age of 16 and require those under 18 to have parental permission, a move local business owners criticized, Quad Cities station WQAD reported.
A Quad City tanning bed owner told WQAD 20% of its clients are under the age of 18.
Sun Tan City did not respond to requests for comment.
Hansen said restricting minors from using tanning beds could prevent skin cancer by lessening the amount of time a person is exposed to tanning bed DNA damage.
The early use of tanning beds could lead to melanoma, “the third most common type of skin cancer but by far the more deadly of the top three,” Hansen said. For young adults, particularly women, melanoma is one of the most common cancers.
By waiting until 18, Hansen said customers may be able to make a more informed decision on the long-term effects, which can include cosmetic damages.
“Given that minors are not in a good position to assess the risks of the behavior and make good decisions based on that assessment,” Hansen said. “I think age is the primary concern.”
The ultraviolet radiation can cause “photoaging,” premature aging of the skin, Hansen said. Ultraviolet radiation exposure can produce more pigment, similar to freckles, but leads to permanent discoloration of the skin.
Repeat tanning bed use can also lead to atrophy, shrinking of the skin and damage to collagen which leads to wrinkles, Hansen said. The shrinking of the collagen layer due to repeated exposure to ultraviolet lights also causes more visibility of blood vessels under the skin causing red lines.
To achieve the desired tan while remaining safe, Hansen recommends alternatives to the tanning bed such as self-tanners or spray tans. Hansen said he usually recommends the more gradual bronzers since they don’t create a streak.
“Whereas maybe 20 years ago those products oftentimes gave more of an orange color to the skin, the products nowadays seem to be better at producing that tan color that would look more natural,” Hansen said.
For those avoiding the tanning beds, Hansen said there are still safety precautions to keep in mind to avoid skin damage.
“Just avoiding tanning beds will not prevent skin cancer development,” Hansen said. “You also have to be careful when out in the sun."
The more fair-skinned a person is, the more of a risk they have of DNA damage from ultraviolet rays, Hansen said, though no skin pigmentation is 100% protective against the sun.
Hansen recommends limiting exposure to the sun in the middle of the day, particularly between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Exposed skin should be protected with a layer of sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher, and must be reapplied every hour when getting wet, whether from swimming or sweating, and every three hours when remaining dry.
The Story County Environmental Health Department is charged with monitoring and enforcing the new requirement if passed but the Board of Supervisors. The operators of the facilities are required to ensure their customers meet the age requirement with government-issued identification cards.
Wednesday’s meeting will be open to the public and accessible via Zoom. For more information on the proposed ordinance and how to join, visit storycountyiowa.gov/1523/Proposed-Tanning-Ordinance.
Danielle Gehr is a politics and government reporter for the Ames Tribune. She can be reached by email at email@example.com, phone at (515) 663-6925 or on Twitter at @Dani_Gehr.
This article originally appeared on Ames Tribune: Story County ordinance could ban minors from using tanning beds; Stakeholders meeting to be held Wednesday
(c)2021 the Ames Tribune, Iowa
Visit the Ames Tribune, Iowa at www.amestrib.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.