California Bans Underage Tanning Bed Use

You know, it’s kind of amazing to me that we need a law that says “HEY STUPID, DON’T DO THAT.”  You know, with anything though – toasters in the bath tub, hair dryers out in the yard in the sprinkler, and eating rat poison.  These things typically lead to instant death and destruction.  But WHY IS IT that, even after a study in 2010 that said, OUT LOUD, that people who use tanning beds are at least three IF NOT FOUR times more likely to develop melanoma.

Doctors believe melanoma is a cancer caused by altering the DNA of cells by some kind of light, most believe the UV spectrum is to blame.  I mean, we use UV-C to clean things – when UV-C is applied to a surface, it doesn’t necessarily kill the germs and nasties, but it cripples them in such a way that they die anyway from having their DNA destroyed.  So, one would assume that, given the circumstances of this idea of a tanning bed using ultraviolet light to essentially put a nice golden crust on our skin would be a poor idea.  Right?  Here’s a picture of Kirstie McRae, a 14-year old two years ago who got 70% burned from overexposure in a tanning bed.  This kind of picture has GOT to stop people, right?

Oh, contrare, mo frere.  Regardless of the fact that you can get more than your share of tanning-able light by being outside, our vanity has suggested that we now must have a law to stop children from using tanning machines.  In California, a law has been passed to make it illegal for a business to allow someone under 18 to use a tanning bed.  From an article at Huffington Post:

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Sunday that he had signed into law a bill that prevents children under 18 from using the popular tanning method. The law takes effect Jan. 1.

Although Texas has banned the use of tanning beds for children under 16, SB746 bill makes California the first state to set a higher age limit. Thirty other states also have some age restrictions on the use, said the bill’s author, state Sen. Ted Lieu.

Under current law, children 14 and under in California already cannot use the beds, but those ages 15 to 17 can do so with permission from their parents. Illinois, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island have considered an age limit similar to California’s, but have yet to enact them, said the Democrat from Torrance, Calif.

The ban will hurt businesses, many of them owned by women, said the Indoor Tanning Association. About 5 percent to 10 percent of its members’ customers are under 18, the industry group noted.

I’m particularly interested in this comment, which talks about the societal pressures of tanning, which kind of makes me vomit in my mouth a wee bit:

“Girls in affluent California communities especially are surrounded by the message that being tanned all year round is cool,” Christina Clarke, of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, said in a recent statement supporting Lieu’s bill. “Pop music star Katy Perry is even singing about it.”

Ah, vanity.  We all have some degree of it.  But this has to be said, and please – men and women both – you have got to know.  We cover up ourselves all year round, some of us wear pants, some wear shirts, but for the most part, we hide a lot of our bodies from light.  When you decide to put on a swim suit and hit the beach, it’s perfectly okay that you’re white and pale, the human body is a beautiful thing.  Vanity isn’t worth the three or four times risk of developing melanoma.  Do you know what melanoma is?  Have you ever seen some images of it?  Here, let me help you!  I went to the National Library of Medicine to find some good ones for you!

So, this melanoma thing, it’s pretty nasty.  Tanning beds increase your risk of melanoma by three to four times.  Melanoma is the most fatal form of skin cancer, and it is the leading cause of death from skin cancer.  Tanning beds increase your risk of fatal cancer by three to four times.  How else can I put this?

From the Public Med Health website:

Melanoma is caused by changes in cells called melanocytes, which produce a skin pigment called melanin. Melanin is responsible for skin and hair color. It can appear on normal skin, or it may begin as a mole or other area that has changed in appearance. Some moles that are present at birth may develop into melanomas.

There are four major types of melanoma:

  • Superficial spreading melanoma is the most common type. It is usually flat and irregular in shape and color, with different shades of black and brown. It is most common in Caucasians.
  • Nodular melanoma usually starts as a raised area that is dark blackish-blue or bluish-red. However, some do not have any color.
  • Lentigo maligna melanoma usually occurs in the elderly. It is most common in sun-damaged skin on the face, neck, and arms. The abnormal skin areas are usually large, flat, and tan with areas of brown.
  • Acral lentiginous melanoma is the least common form. It usually occurs on the palms, soles, or under the nails and is more common in African Americans.

Rarely, melanomas appear in the mouth, iris of the eye, or retina at the back of the eye. They may be found during dental or eye examinations. Although very rare, melanoma can also develop in the vagina, esophagus, anus, urinary tract, and small intestine.

Melanoma is not as common as other types of skin cancer. However, the rate of melanoma is steadily increasing.

The risk of developing melanoma increases with age. However, it is also frequently seen in young people.

You are more likely to develop melanoma if you:

  • Have fair skin, blue or green eyes, or red or blond hair
  • Live in sunny climates or at high altitudes
  • Spent a lot of time in high levels of strong sunlight, because of a job or other activities
  • Have had one or more blistering sunburns during childhood
  • Use tanning devices

Other risk factors include:

  • Close relatives with a history of melanoma
  • Coming in contact with cancer-causing chemicals such as arsenic, coal tar, and creosote
  • Certain types of moles (atypical dysplastic) or multiple birthmarks
  • Weakened immune system due to disease or medication

Gross.  Why would you voluntarily put yourself through this knowing the risk associated?!

Got any weird looking moles after prolonged sunbathing or tanning bed exposure?  Doctors are going to use the ABCDE method of examining your trouble spots, so you should know it too:

Often the first sign of melanoma is a change in the shape, color, size, or feel of an existing mole. Melanoma may also appear as a new mole. Thinking of “ABCDE” can help you remember what to look for:

  • Asymmetry: The shape of one half does not match the other half.
  • Border that is irregular: The edges are often ragged, notched, or blurred in outline. The pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.
  • Color that is uneven: Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, gray, red, pink, or blue may also be seen.
  • Diameter: There is a change in size, usually an increase. Melanomas can be tiny, but most are larger than the size of a pea (larger than 6 millimeters or about 1/4 inch).
  • Evolving: The mole has changed over the past few weeks or months.

Melanomas can vary greatly in how they look. Many show all of the ABCDE features. However, some may show changes or abnormal areas in only one or two of the ABCDE features.

In more advanced melanoma, the texture of the mole may change. The skin on the surface may break down and look scraped. It may become hard or lumpy. The surface may ooze or bleed. Sometimes the melanoma is itchy, tender, or painful.

Happy Monday, everybody!

Thanks to Telegraph, WebMD,  and the American Cancer Society.

Enter The Ultraviolet Ninja

That sounds like an excellent psychedelic kung-fu film, doesn’t it?

I’ve been doing my normal duties of researching and digging around for articles lately, and in my search I’ve found several items pertaining to using ultraviolet light as a disinfectant in the home.  Some of these products look pretty interesting, and some of them look like pretty interesting Home Shopping Network stuff that you sell at garage sales once you realize you bought and stored something without using it, ever.  I’ll let you be the judge.

First, the UV Onion, from Yun Li:


The UV Onion is a disinfecting device that is both solar and powered by the strength of the UV ninja.  It looks like an onion, so obviously you’d probably use it in the kitchen – Yun Li’s site says it’s made for all rooms of the house.  It has a solar storage battery inside as well for those times when the sun just doesn’t shine.



Next up, the Photon Scorpion Finder Freedom Micro Keychain Light from Photon Light, Inc:


Scorpion Under Ultraviolet Light © Kenton L Elliott

Before I get any further, scorpions, you and your friend the spider can keep your creepy, nasty, misshapen butts away from me at all times.  We have nothing to talk about, ever.  Photon Light has made it so you can detect scorpions in your boots, sleeping bags, under piles of wood, and in other places these little poisonous vermin like to hide.  Apparently scorpions have fluorescent bodies, and the power of our friend the ultraviolet ninja helps to illuminate them so you can give them the boot, per se.  Nasty.

The Scorpion Finder runs about $16.  (thanks, Gadgeteer!)

scorpion finder

Next, the VIOLight Toothbrush Sanitizer from VIOLight:


Makes pretty good sense, huh?  Your toothbrush lives in the bathroom.  You take your pants off in the bathroom, along with doing all kinds of other somewhat disgusting things in the bathroom.  Often, your toothbrush lives near the sink in the bathroom where you wash your hands after doing certain relatively disgusting things in the bathroom.  Doesn’t it make sense that you might want to use the power of ultraviolet light to clean the funk off of your toothbrush?  After all, you do put it in your mouth.


Amazon has this gadget for about $40.

The next ultraviolet gadget is considerably more expensive, retailing at around $280.  Nevertheless, meet the Purelight UV Sterilizing Wand from Gaiam:


The Purelight wand has a 15,000 hour UV lamp, several settings, and the feeling that you’re crippling bacteria and other nasties forever.  Try to reproduce NOW, microscopic vermin!


The problem with anything that uses ultraviolet light is basically an issue of form factor – to disinfect something with UV light, you have to have the device in the place you want to sterilize for between 10 and 25 seconds.  With most of the devices out there (take the Purelight wand for example) you might want to sterilize your mattress, but that might take a long time depending on how large your mattress really is.  As form factor increases and prices decrease on this gear, I think the UV disinfecting trend will become more commonplace in homes.  This is of course just my opinion, and we all know how that can go.

Verilux UV-C Wand – Like An Ultraviolet Light Saber

We know our pal Ultraviolet Light and the ninja germ killing abilities it possesses – and now a company called VeriLux has created the Cleanwave UV sanitizing wand.  It’s like a UV light saber to smack germs in the mouth.  Verilux says, about the CleanWave:

Originally developed for sanitizing hospitals and clean rooms, UV-C light technology can now be safely and easily used in your home! UV-C light has the ability to eliminate 99.9% of household germs, bacteria and viruses in seconds, without harmful chemicals. The Verilux Cleanwave Sanitizing Light Wand is a convenient and easy way to safely kill the harmful germs that lurk throughout your home. With a new improved design that is slim, and lightweight, this wand is very easy to use and perfect for eliminating potentially dangerous allergens, bacteria, and germs from a baby rooms, kitchen counters, flatware, bedding, sofas, bathroom surfaces, and just about anywhere within the home. The Verilux Cleanwave sanitizing light wand is also safe, featuring a safety shut-off that turns the UV-C bulb off when the wand it tipped upside down to prevent harmful exposure to your eyes and skin. This is a feature that has been overlooked by many manufacturers of UV-C light wands and we are very pleased that Verilux has included it on their wand!

You hold this thing over surfaces for between 10-20 seconds, and you’ve crippled the genes of the germs, if not killed them all together.  99.9% of those little punks will be destroyed, so breathe easy.  I imagine I’d be making that stupid VWOOOWV noise every time I used this thing, too.

The Verilux Cleanwave sanitizer is running around a hundred bucks.  Check it out.

verilux cleanwave

What? Ultraviolet Light Glowing Puppies


This has to fall under the What? category, even though I have a beagle, and she is the cutest of the cute.

Scientists in South Korea have developed the world’s first transgenic dog – a dog that produces genes from a different species, in this case, genes from sea anemones.  These puppies make a fluorescent protein that glows red under ultraviolet light.  The puppy’s name?  Ruppy – for Ruby Puppy.

You ready for some cuteness?


This experiment is a proof-of-principle experiment stemming from scientist Woo Suk Hwang’s Snuppy, the world’s first cloned dog – Ruppy is a cloned beagle as well, and we have professor Byeong-Chun Lee of Seoul National University to thank.  Funny enough, Hwang’s work on human cells back in 2005 proved to be pretty much a crock (and very fraudulent, too!) but Snuppy was real.  He failed at man, but he got man’s best friend right, at least.

The bummer part of this experiment as I see it?  These cloned dogs are to be used as stand-ins for human disease research.  Ruppy was created out of a bucket of cute (and sea anemone fibroblasts) to see if it could be done.  The ruppy was mated with some non-transgenic dogs, and the spawned dogs are now spawning their own fluorescent puppies.

Okay, one more bit of cute – now you can go on with your day:


Thanks, New Scientist!

SteriPen – De-Deathify Water On The Go

An old friend emailed me to tell me about some of her trip to India.  I think in total she spent about three weeks there, and during the whole time she said she never bought a bottle of water, and drank water from the tap in a bottle she got there.  For a moment I thought that she must have the most stainless steel constitution in the whole world, because the rumor is that tap water and gringos visiting India don’t go well together.  I’ve been to some places in the United States that had water that didn’t “agree” with me, per se, for lack of a better phrase.

Again, I gotta chock up a win for the ninja of light, ultraviolet light.  Do you think that UV light’s ninja suit is indigo colored, or traditional black?

This friend told me about the SteriPen – a device that uses ultraviolet light to kick the butts of nasty, nasty life screwer-uppers like Botulism, Cholera, Dysentary and Typhoid from water.  Have you ever seen what Cholera does to someone’s insides?  I’ve only seen video, but holy crap.  She’s no BS artist, so I gotta believe it worked for her.  I believe they had some rural locations in their India trip – they visited Delhi, Rishikesh, Kankal, Varanasi, and Haridwar – some of these locations have awful pollution problems with their water.  Hydro-Photon, the company that makes and sells the SteriPen, recommends it for emergency situations, military folk, people traveling, camping folk, and anyone else who needs to make nasty water drinkable.


The SteriPen sits for about a minute and a half in your water bottle – and there are three flavors of the pen.  The UV lamp is rated at 8,000 hours, and there’s even a solar case for charging the batteries if you choose to get that option.  I’ve done a lot of back country camping where it wasn’t too advantageous to take extra water – and I think those water purifier tablets and drops that supposedly kill protozoa and microbes taste like crap.  SteriPen is taste and smell-less, which is already a big plus.  It’s small, with is another plus, because I’ve usually got enough beef jerky and Cheetos in my camping pack for a weekend outside.

I found a few videos on the pen – here’s a decent one:

There are three different models of the SteriPen, ranging from about 70 bucks to about a hundred.  There’s the Classic model (the basic package), the Protector model (marketed towards military personnel), and the Freedom model (which seems to be geared towards outdoorsy use).  There’s also an Adventurer model, which is about half the size of the Classic, and an Emergency Pack, geared for emergency situations.  Oh, and the Ultra — USB rechargeable, no batteries needed!  Several package deals exist too – with a solar charger, several carrying case and accessories deals, and a few others – check out the line of products here.

I’m going to pick one of these up soon – if you already have one and use it, please post in the comments!  I really want to hear your stories of the device.


Mini UV-C Disinfectant Wand

I feel like there has been a ton of info on ultraviolet light lately as a germicidal method.  I just ran across an article giving a review on this little mini-UV class C light that sanitizes surfaces:


Okay, now is it me, or is that lady way too happy to be using her mini-wand on the ol’ porcelain throne?  She is thrilled!  Using the Germ Guardian UV-C Mini Sanitizer Wand is not only good for killing bacteria, but it must be a hoot too!

Simply pass the Germ Guardian Mini Sanitizer Wand over surfaces to kill up to 99% of bacteria and viruses.  Also fights unwanted odors and allergens like mold spores and dust mites. Ideal for – toilets, showers, phones, computers, sinks, countertops, bedding and shoes. Take it with you when you travel!

I guess it’s pretty easy to use – button on, button off operation, and it’s good on batteries. It has a safety device in it that turns the lamp off if it’s tilted up – probably to prevent eye damage – which, according to Scott Merrill over at CrunchGear, was kind of a pain in practice although a good idea in theory.

Gosh, even I’m excited for the lady nuking that toilet!


Self-Healing Paint?

Something tells me that this new innovation isn’t going to fix the big ol’ scrapemark in our car from the battle of my wife vs. the parking garage column, but nevertheless…

Scientists have created a polyurethane topcoat-like material for automobile paint (and other stuff, I assume?) that heals itself for the most part under ultraviolet light – you know, the NINJA of the world of light wavelengths.  The principle is really interesting.  By utilizing a chemical called chitosan, found in the shells of crabs and shrimp, a protectant film has been created that bonds with nearby molecules when exposed to UV light.  It’s been tested on very thin scratches so far, but the results have been positive.  The researchers are looking at how wide the scratches can be in order to still heal with the chitosan.

I did find a small video of chitosan working to heal itself.  Check it out:

According to a Reuters article, the material only works in the same place once – after a scratch is repaired, you better not scratch it there again!

Thanks, New Scientist and Reuters!

UV Light is Found to Kick TB’s Butt

I am starting to see ultraviolet wavelengths of light as the ninja of the world of medical light.  Just recently we’ve discovered (we as in the royal we, humanity – har har) that UV light kills the MSRA Stapholococcus bacteria, and that it kills members of the Coliform family of bacteria on keyboards in hospitals.  I just read that doctors and researchers are discovering that UV light also puts the smackdown on tuberculosis, possibly cutting the spread of it in common areas and sensitive hospital rooms by almost 70%.

<whapCHA!  slap! bonk!>

If you read about drug-resistant strains of TB, you’ll discover some pretty freaking terrible news and statistics, and news of too many deaths related to infection of drug-resistant TB.  But, even drug-resistant TB gets SLAPPED in ultraviolet light.  UV light is already used to disinfect ambulances and operating rooms.

<punch – kick>

An experiment was conducted with infected patients in Peru that brought researchers to this conclusion – one C-class UV fixture was placed in a room lighting scenario with a fan to stir the air in the room, and contraction was greatly reduced.  The idea is that when a person infected with tuberculosis coughs, the bug is expelled into the air.  When a UV fixture is added to the room, the light disables the bacteria so that it can’t divide, infect, or grow.  Boom.

From an article in Science Daily about the experiment:

To reach their conclusions, scientists hung UVC lights in a hospital ward in Lima, Perú where 69 patients with HIV and TB were being treated. The researchers pumped air from the ward up to a guinea pig enclosure on the roof of the hospital for 535 consecutive days. The guinea pigs were split into three groups of approximately 150: the first group received air exposed to the UV lights in the ward, the second group received ward air treated with negative ionisers, and the third control group was given untreated air straight from the ward. The guinea pigs were given skin tests for tuberculosis once a month.

By the end of the experiment, 35% of the control group were infected with TB, compared to 14% of the ionised air group and 9.5% of the UVC group. 8.6% of the control group developed the active form of the disease after being infected with TB, compared to 4.3% of the ionised air group and 3.6% of the UVC group.


Just in case it wasn’t scary enough – ladies and gentlemen, Tuberculosis.

Thanks, Science Daily, AFP, US News, and Health Jockey!

Blue Light Kills the MSRA Staph Bacteria

There’s an article about to be published in a medical journal about the Methicilin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MSRA) germ – apparently blue light is the bacteria’s kryptonite.  Scientists and researchers have found that ultraviolet light permanently damages the bacteria about 90% of the time – enough to make a breakthrough.

From the article:

In a study that will appear in the April 2009 issue of the journal Photomedicine and Laser Surgery, researchers from the New York Institute of Technology, in Westbury, NY, detail how shining blue light on cultures containing MRSA damages them permanently and causes up to a 90.3 percent reduction of the infections. The light has to be in the 470-nanometer wavelength, and tests concluded that the higher the dosage, the more bacteria are killed.

In addition to working so efficiently, the therapy does not involve additional medication, and, furthermore, it doesn’t harm the patients by subjecting them to UV radiation, like other techniques do. High-dose photo-irradiation was proven to almost completely annihilate two of the most potent strands of the Staph, namely the US-300 strain of CA-MRSA and the IS-853 strain of HA-MRSA, which are very widespread in the United States and represent the most commonly-acquired infections in the community, and the hospital, respectively.

Go, ultraviolet light!


Thanks, Softpedia News!