Sunbed businesses were banned in South Australia in 2015, after their use was linked to increased incidences of melanoma cancers.
But InDaily has found more than 15 online advertisements from potential customers offering to pay to use one.
While commercial solarium businesses are illegal, their private use is not. However, anyone caught loaning their solarium to others for a fee or reward faces large fines.
A solarium is a tanning capsule lined with ultraviolet (UV) lights. People lay in the solarium while the UV darkens the skin at a rapid rate.
Exposure to artificial sources of UV radiation through solariums can cause melanoma, ocular melanoma, eye damage, premature ageing of the skin and other adverse side effects.
Despite legislation and public health warnings, Gumtree contains over two dozen ads in South Australia that facilitate illegal commercial use of the machine.
Gumtree users like “Filipa” say they want to “pay cash” to for solarium “sessions”.
Other users like “Danny” say they don’t want to buy the machine outright but infer they wanted to use it with “100% (sic) discretion assured.”
In 2016, a South Australian man was found guilty of running an illegal solarium tanning service out of his garage.
He was charged with offering tanning services to the public and received a $2100 fine.
InDaily asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) whether Gumtree users were exploiting a legislative loophole where the responsibility lay with the proprietor, not the procurer.
The EPA said it was not illegal to put out a notice to pay to use a solariaum.
“But a person putting out a public notice could in theory be charged if their conduct aided, abetted, counselled or procured the commission of the offence by the principal offender,” it said in a statement.
“The EPA focusses on the illegal operators, and has and will continue to take action on information that identifies illegal solaria operations.”
Gumtree told InDaily that private ownership and personal use of solaria was legal in all states and territories, but it relied on user feedback to keep the platform safe.
“We operate a report and take down process and we strongly encourage our engaged community to continue reporting any concerning listings believed to be offering commercial tanning options,” it said in a statement.
“The safety and security of our users is our main priority, and we consistently work with relevant authorities and our community to ensure everyone on the platform is operating within the confines of the law.
After InDaily notified Gumtree of the 15 listings, 10 were removed.
Zahra Ayubi said she stopped tanning at a commercial salon when the ban came into effect.
“If it were still legal I would do it,” she said.
“As a mother it’s just easier for me to get tanned in six minutes by using a solarium, rather than laying under the sun for hours.
“Even though I stopped visiting the salon, I know that some of my friends must still be using the services illegally.
“They don’t have their own personal beds and they’re too tanned, even in winter.”
The Cancer Council Australia advises against using any type of solarium as there is no such thing as a “safe tan”.
In an online statement they state: “there are no substantiated health benefits, including boosting vitamin D levels, attributable to exposure to artificial UV radiation in a solarium.”
If anyone has knowledge of illegal operations they can contact the EPA on their website. The EPA will act on an anonymous reports.
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