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Shoddy sunbeds on the second-hand market in New Zealand: Otago findings

Sun striking the Clocktower

Wednesday, 4 October 2017 2:26pm

New Zealand regulations around commercial sunbeds have been tightened in recent years, but they can be purchased on TradeMe where no regulations apply at all, according to ongoing University of Otago research.

And there a quite a few of them out there – many in pretty poor shape.

Mrs Bronwen McNoe presented the research findings made by her and Associate Professor Tony Reeder at the Public Health Association Conference in Christchurch this week.

The research is supported by the Cancer Society of New Zealand as well as by the University.

Mrs McNoe said Australia has banned commercial provision of sunbed services and New Zealand has restricted their use to people over 18.

“So, it’s a concern that ex- commercial sunbeds can be sold on the second-hand market, because consumers will continue to be exposed to excessive levels of ultraviolet radiation (UVR), which is the primary potentially preventable cause of skin cancer."

The purpose of the research was to count and describe the sunbeds and sunlamps available for sale on TradeMe, which is New Zealand’s largest auction site for second-hand goods. How many of these were ex-commercial items was particularly noted.

Estimates about total second-hand sunbed or sunlamp use in New Zealand can regularly be made because the research is ongoing.

From 10 November 2015 to 20 September 2017, there were 266 sunbeds or sunlamps for sale on TradeMe, a quarter of which had previously been used commercially. More than half (144) were sold for less than $1500 and at an average of $186.

“A number of concerns also arose from reviewing the description of the devices,” Mrs McNoe says.

These included: claims of health benefits from sunbed use; that beds were for sale with faulty timers; and that little information was available (even when requested) on the age or history of the device.

No safety information of any kind was provided on reducing the risk of using the devices.

“This is a completely unregulated environment, with unjustified health claims being regularly made and no information provided on reducing the risk of product use,” she summarised.

For more information, contact:

Mrs Bronwen McNoe
Cancer Society Social and Behavioural Research Unit
Department of Preventive and Social Medicine
University of Otago
Email bronwen.mcnoe@otago.ac.nz
 
Rob Zorn (PHA conference media liaison)
Windhover Communications Ltd
Tel +64 4 381 3904
Email rob@windhover.nz

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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