19 May – Euromelanoma Day. Be responsible, find out the health risks associated with ultraviolet (UV) radiation!

Every year, in May, Euromelanoma Day, a pan-European campaign for skin cancer, tries to raise public awareness on negative effects of sun rays and ultraviolet (UV) radiation that may lead to, for instance, different health problems, including special type of skin cancer - melanoma.

Health effects of UV radiation from the sun and tanning salon devices is widely underrated. People often forget that tanning should be taken seriously as it may cause melanoma. Over the recent years number of melanoma [1] cases and related deaths has been increasing in Latvia.
Negative effects of sunlight and necessary protection
Health Inspectorate reminds: pay attention and take necessary precautions when exposed to direct sunlight as intense UV radiation, which in our region usually occurs over summer months between 11:00 a.m. and 15:00 p.m., may damage your health, therefore, you should try to limit your time in the sun. Shade does not provide complete shelter from the sun, either. Water and sand may also reflect sunrays, increasing the chances of getting burnt by the sun. When in the sun, make sure your head is protected by wearing light headwear with wide brims, use sunglasses and wear light-coloured clothing that is well-ventilated.
Before exposing yourself to direct sunlight, apply sunscreen with at least SPF (sun protection factor) 15 to protect yourself from UV radiation (UVA and UVB). For better protection, apply the sunscreen abundantly and spread it evenly all over your skin at least 15 minutes before you go outside. 
Direct sunlight may be very dangerous to children, therefore, parents are advised to find time and discuss safety aspects that kids should remember when exposing themselves to direct sunlight. Special protective measures should be undertaken by those who spend extended periods of time working (for instance, doing gardening, field work, road repairs), engaging in sporting or other physical activities (e.g., hiking, biking, jogging, picnicking, etc.) and exposing themselves to solar radiation.  
 
Monitoring of tanning salons and protective measures to reduce associated tanning risks
Although there is a lot of information about cosmetic tanning offered by tanning salons, Health Inspectorate would like to remind that sunbed tanning must also be done carefully.
We would like to remind you that tanning salon staff should offer clients sufficient information on tanning risks before providing the actual service. Such information must contain description of UV radiation effects and instructions safe use of sunbeds. Tanning salon employees must also conduct visual examination of client’s skin before tanning to avoid complications and determine the optimum tanning mode. Tanning salon staff must also fill in and provide client with appointment card prior to tanning. Card must contain the following information: name, surname, appointment date and time, UV radiation-related health risks, terms and conditions.
To protect eyes and sensitive body parts from negative effects of UV radiation, clients must use protective goggles for eyes and cover for the skin.
Tanning salon staff may ask client to provide ID to verify whether client has reached legal tanning age. Underage persons younger than 18 are not advised to use artificial tanning. Underage clients are allowed to use artificial tanning only with a letter of referral from a GP or dermatologist. 
In 2013, Health Inspectorate performed 118 scheduled checks of tanning salons and other service providers (beauty care salons, fitness clubs, baths and saunas, etc.) offering cosmetic tanning on top of their core business activities. Different irregularities were identified in 93 or 79% of tanning salons and other service providers. In 7 cases Inspectorate decided to suspend tanning services due to serious irregularities (unacceptable levels of UV radiation).


[1] Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that may develop anywhere on your skin. However, in 30-50% melanoma can develop on pre-existing nevus. Melanoma can be diagnosed in men and women of all age groups. Children are affected very rarely. Melanoma is not the most widespread type of skin cancer but it certainly is the most aggressive form of skin cancer. People with lighter skin complexion and pale skin colour carry greater risk of sunburn and, along with people who have freckles and birthmarks, are more susceptible to melanoma. Those having had a lot of bad sunburns in early childhood and adulthood have greater risk of developing melanoma. Risk also increases if melanoma runs in the family.