State does not give inspection score to tanning salons

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Visit a tanning salon and you may notice something missing: an inspection score from the state.

Lori Shelton owns The Tan Line in High Point. She has maintained a tanning salon license with the state for more than a decade. That license is required by North Carolina law and it comes with unannounced inspections.

The inspection covers this list of 26 criteria and Lori tells us The Tan Line has always done well, but there’s no easy way for her to prove that to her customers. That’s because the inspection doesn’t include a grade or score. The state doesn’t even require salon owners to post documentation showing an inspection happened.

Lori says, “we wish we posted a grade because we know we’d have an A+!”

Restaurants, nail salons, and hair salons are all required to post inspection scores. So why not tanning salons? We took our questions to the head of the Radiation Protection Section in Raleigh. Tanning beds are also under this division because they emit ultra violet radiation. Lee Cox tells us, “it’s a relatively small program.”

Of a $4.6 million dollar budget for RPS last year, the tanning inspection program only received $317,000. There are three inspectors for more than a thousand tanning salons across our state. Cox says they are doing what lawmakers require and that doesn’t include an inspection score.

FOX8 On Your Side contacted tate representatives from the Piedmont who sit on the Oversight Committee for Health and Human Services. We asked if these regulations need to be changed.

State Representative Donny Lambeth answered our questions.

He said, “the issues you raised do need additional review to make sure the public is protected and they are fully aware of any risk associated with tanning.”

But until that happens, how do you know if a tanning salon meets regulations?

Lori Shelton says be a smart consumer.

She told us, “ask for a tour of the salon. Look at the beds. Look around the place and see if it’s clean.”

Make sure the people who work there are certified. Ask to see the paperwork.

Ask how old the beds are. Newer beds use better tanning technology. Beds should also always be clean and show no cracks in the acrylic covering the bulbs.

FOX8 On Your Side found the inspection reports aren’t available online for you to see… Cox says there are plans to change that but couldn’t give a date. FOX8 requested the tanning inspections from the state. The Department of Health and Human Services did not release the full inspection reports but did provide summaries.