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BRUSSELS (Reuters Life!) - You may need a sunbed to get that especially fine tan over this long winter, but the EU warned on Friday that some tanning beds and operators violate safety regulations, putting users at risk of skin cancer.
The European Union's executive arm said on Friday that just over 14 percent of sunbeds violate radiation safety limits and that tanning salons often fail to warn clients of the dangers of UV radiation while using the appliances.
"I am concerned that a high percentage of sunbeds and sunbed services were found not to respect safety rules," EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner John Dalli said in a statement.
"This is an important health concern since the incidence of skin cancer is doubling every 15-20 years," he said.
Tanning beds have been ranked one of the greatest cancer threats to humans by an international research group.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified the ultra-violet-emitting beds in its highest cancer risk category, labeling them "carcinogenic to humans."
The executive European Commission said tests on 500 sunbeds in 10 EU countries including Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Poland had found one in seven breached safety limits.
It said consumers were not always informed of hazards such as burning or the long-term risk of skin cancer, while some permitted underage usage.
Britain early this year backed calls for under-18s to be banned from using sunbeds in tanning salons due to the increased risk of skin cancer.
Some countries and U.S. states regulate the multi-billion-dollar tanning industry, with some banning teenagers from using sunbeds or requiring consent from their parents or a doctor.
Sunbeds have to comply with the 27-nation EU's Low Voltage Directive, which limits ultra-violet radiation to 0.3 watt per square meter.
Reporting by Bate Felix, editing by Paul Casciato