Tanning Beds: Ultraviolet Waves

Natasha & Naomi

This is what a tanning bed looks like on the inside

Facts about UV waves

In 1800, a German astronomer, Freidrich William Herscel was experimenting with the many colors of light created by passing sunlight through a glass prism. He noticed that the temperature of the colors increased toward the red end of the spectrum. Because of this change in temperature, he decided to measure the temperature just beyond the red end of the spectrum and discovered an even higher temperature. Herscel had just made the incredible discovery of an invisible light! He called it "Ultra-Red".

The following year, Johann Wilhelm Ritter, born Physicist, heard of Herscel's discovery of "Ultra-Red", and he decided to see if light existed beyond the violet end of the spectrum. While attending the University of Jena now known as Germany, Ritter lead experiments where silver-chloride, a light sensitive material, was exposed to the colors of the visible spectrum which he created by passing sunlight through a glass prism. He noticed that the silver-chloride reacted more quickly towards the violet end of the spectrum. When Ritter placed the silver-chloride beyond the violet end of the spectrum, an even more intense reaction occurred. This proved the existence of a form of light beyond the violet end of the spectrum which he called "Chemical Rays". Later on, this light was referred to as "Ultraviolet" light. Ultra actually means "beyond." Ultraviolet waves have a much shorter frequency compared to visible light and although it has many positive uses such as shining ultraviolet waves on cancer cells in order to restore your health. Or when getting an x-ray you are able to see what goes on in your body. Of course with too much exposure to UV light can be very harmful and have bad effects on your health.

Some Health risks associated with to much exposure to UV radiation include:

~ Skin Cancer

~ Skin Burns

~ Premature Skin Aging

~ Eye Damage (Short and Long Term)

How Tanning Beds use UV waves

When skin cells are exposed to UV radiation, they produce a brown pigment to protect themselves from further UV exposure. This results in a darkening of the skin called tanning.

This is a diagram of how a tanning bed works
This is a diagram of ultraviolet waves.


  1. There are nearly 22,000 tanning salons across the United States, serving about 28 million customers.
  2. Out of the 28 million people who tan indoors, 2.3 million are teens.
  3. 70% of people who go to tanning salons are white females between 16 to 29 years old.
  4. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization’s International Agency of Research on Cancer panel stated that ultraviolet radiation from the sun and artificial sources from tanning beds are known to be cancer-causing.
  5. Although the amount of radiation produced during indoor tanning is similar to the sun, it may be stronger in some cases.
  6. Melanoma rates have increased in the last three decades. About 76,000 U.S. adults will be diagnosed with the cancer-type this year. About 9,200 are expected to die from the disease.
  7. The risk of melanoma is 75% higher for people who start tanning indoors before the age of 30.
  8. Indoor tanning can lead to skin aging, immune suppression and eye damage.
  9. Only one-third of people use sunscreen while tanning.
  10. 58% of adolescent tanning bed users have burns due to constant exposure.
  11. Only 36 states restrict indoor tanning by minors.

Comment Stream