Tanning beds require a lot of energy and have the potential to leak hazardous materials. The light bulbs used in tanning beds, which must be frequently replaced contain mercury. If not disposed of properly, hazardous liquid mercury is released into the environment. In addition, the light bulbs consume between one hundred and two hundred watts of energy per second. Lastly, the tanning beds themselves, which are made of metals and plastics, only have a lifespan of ten years and do not decompose in landfills.
In a more tangential way, use of tanning beds impacts the environment in the sense that their use has been shown to correlate with skin cancer rates—people who use tanning beds before the age of 30 are 75% more likely to develop skin cancer than those who do not use them. The more people who are sick with a preventable disease because of their voluntary exposure to UV radiation, the more money, time, and resources are spent on treating them as patients and researching treatments and cures. It could be argued that the money and resources could be directed elsewhere, including environmental issues, if the demand for skin cancer treatments was not there. Removing the population of patients who have developed the disease because of their voluntary exposure would greatly reduce the strain on the medical community to focus so strongly on this disease.
I know this argument doesn’t quite hold as strong in the cold winter, but tanning beds are wasteful because they use such a tremendous amount of energy (while tanning as well as construction and transport) and resources to do what the sun does for free and automatically.
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