Lancashire County Council Trading Standards is warning tanning salons after high numbers of sunbeds were found to fail safety checks.
Officers tested the UV radiation levels of 37 sunbeds which were available to the public in 14 businesses across Lancaster and Morecambe.
Just seven sunbeds (19%) were found to comply with product safety standards that impose a maximum UV emission of 0.3W/m2, which is equivalent to the summer midday sun in the Mediterranean. 18 sunbeds (48%) were found to be at least two times over the limit whilst five (13%) were found to be at least three times over the limit.
Businesses which failed the safety test have been warned and instructed to lower UV emissions to acceptable levels or face poss! ible legal action.
The World Health Organisation warns against the use of cosmetic sunbeds due to the adverse effects on health including skin cancer, eye damage and premature skin ageing. Cancer Research UK studies have found that the main cause of skin cancer is overexposure to UV radiation.
County Councillor Janice Hanson, cabinet member for public protection and waste, said: "The number of tanning salons whose sunbeds have failed these tests is quite alarming.
"Whilst work so far has been focused in Morecambe and Lancaster, the problem is likely to be more widespread and we'll be carrying out tests in other areas in the coming months. However, we want to take this opportunity to highlight the problems we have already encountered.
"Whilst the high failure rate is of great concern, we are hoping that the work will increase awareness both with sunbed users and tanning salons.
"Public safety is of utmost impor! tance and these results show that Lancashire residents need to exercis e care if they are planning to use sunbeds.
"I would also urge businesses to take steps to ensure that their sunbeds comply with UV limits and that sunbeds with excessive UV emissions are not made available to the public.
"This may involve having to replace tubes in the sunbed with ones of a lower wattage. If in any doubt, we would advise salons to seek guidance from the manufacturer of the sunbed or their sunbed tube supplier. Businesses face possible legal action if they don't comply with the requirements."
Lancashire County Council's Trading Standards Service will be writing to all businesses that make sunbeds available to the public to alert them to the test results and ask them to check theirs are safe.