How to Use RadTown USA
EPA has designed RadTown USA to meet the needs of different types of users. We provide both graphical and text-based ways to locate introductory information about sources and uses of radiation that may be encountered in our everyday life. Below is a guide to using the site and information on what you can expect to find.
RadTown USA provides two primary ways to find the information about radiation sources:
Enter RadTown, the interactive, virtual community of RadTown USA, and mouse over the buildings and machines to discover locations where there are items that contain, use, or have been treated with radiation. You will also discover sources of natural radiation in the environment.
Clicking on a location will lead you to one or more fact sheets about radiation sources common in many communities. (Hint: Watch for the yellow label that appears when you pass over a linked location.) You can see how this works in the illustration below.
- Select RadTown
USA Topics, to choose a topic through
which to explore the fact sheets:
- Personal Exposure
- Use of Radioactive Materials
- Radiation-Treated Materials
- Natural Radiation
- Radioactive Waste
Each fact sheet covers four aspects of the radiation issue:
- the nature of the radiation issue or radioactive item that may be found in a location
- governmental and/or international organizations regulate the radiation to protect you
- steps you can take to protect yourself
- resources for further exploration of the issue.
A summary of the fact sheet, UV Tanning Equipment provides an overview of the type of information you can expect to find:
The introduction to each fact sheet discusses the radiation issue and how it affects people:
Tanning occurs when the skin produces additional pigment (coloring) to protect itself against burns from ultraviolet (UV) rays. Overexposure to these rays can cause eye injury, premature wrinkling of the skin, light-induced skin rashes, and can increase your chances of developing skin cancer.
Most sun lamps and tanning equipment emit ultraviolet radiation, as does the sun. While UVA radiation from artificial-tanning equipment is less likely to cause sunburn than UVB radiation from sunlight, contrary to the claims of some tanning salons, that does not make UVA radiation safe. UVA rays have a suspected link to malignant melanoma, and, like UVB rays, they also may be linked to immune system damage.
In addition, exposure to ultraviolet light actually thins the skin, making it less able to heal and increases the damage caused by sunlight. Women who use tanning beds more than once a month are 55 percent more likely to develop malignant melanoma, the most fatal form of skin cancer
Who is protecting you
This section of the fact sheet lists the agencies and organizations that are responsible for regulating the radiation sources and inspecting their use. For example, these governmental organizations regulate UV Tanning Equipment and its use:
The Food and Drug Administration regulates the content of labels on tanning devices, including tanning equipment, and protective eyewear. Also, if tanning equipment is being used inappropriately, FDA can remove tanning equipment from a location.The Federal Trade Commission investigates false, misleading, and deceptive advertising claims about the devices. When the FTC determines that advertisements are not truthful, it can take corrective action.
States regulate the tanning salon businesses and also have the authority to issue operating licenses for tanning devices, mandate periodic facility inspections, and train tanning salon owners and employees.
What you can do to protect yourself
While government regulators have a responsibility to protect us by regulating industries, devices, and uses of radiation, we have a responsibility to make wise personal choices. This segment of the fact sheets provides guidance on making those choices. From the UV Tanning Equipment fact sheet:
There are several ways that you can prevent your exposure to artificial sources of ultraviolet rays: avoid tanning beds (consider tanning sprays as an alternative); if you do use UV tanning equipment, use eyewear that provides 100% UV protection, conduct monthly self exams of your skin, and visit your dermatologist annually.
The Resources section of the fact sheets provides an annotated list of the references we used in preparing the fact sheet and others we have found that provide useful information.
The UV Tanning Equipment fact sheet provides links to state, federal, nongovernmental on-line sources of information on tanning equipment and UV radiation exposure in general, as well as hard copy references.