Using non-ionizing radiation in beauty care

Different radiation techniques, such as laser and UV radiation, are utilized in beauty care.

Various cosmetic treatments are based on applying radiation to the skin or other parts of the body. The technologies used include, but are not limited to, laser, light pulses (IPL), radio frequency electromagnetic radiation (RF), ultrasound, and infrared and ultraviolet radiation. These technologies are used, for example, for tattoo or hair removal, skin conditioning (rejuvenation), fat or cellulite removal, curing gel nail polishes and skin cleansing. If incorrectly performed, the treatments involve the risk of, for instance, burns and scarring.

The use of non-ionizing radiation outside health care facilities in Finland is monitored by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority. Use in healthcare units in Finland is monitored by the National Authority for Welfare and Health, Valvira.

Beauty treatments that use non-ionizing radiation must not exceed the maximum exposure limits set in decree 294/2002. The decree specifies the limits for laser and radio frequency (RF) radiation. Lasers utilized in the treatments must not fall under safety class 4 as specified in the European laser safety standard. The six minute average of the specific absorption rate (local SAR) of radio frequency radiation must not exceed the limits specified in the decree: 2 W/kg (head and body) or 4 W/kg (limbs).

The decree 294/2002 does not specify maximum values for all types of non-ionizing radiation. With no maximum values established, the operator must use other means to ensure that the treatments are conducted in a safe manner.

According to Section 5 of Consumer Safety Act (920/2011), the operator shall, by observing the care and skills required by the circumstances, ensure that a consumer good or service does not involve any risk to the health or property of any person. In accordance with Section 2 of the Radiation Act, in activities utilizing radiation or otherwise causing radiation exposure, an individual’s exposure to radiation must not exceed the maximum values specified in the act (principle of individual protection).

For instance, decree 294/2002 does not specify maximum values for the intensity of ultrasound. However, ultrasound cavitation poses risks to the safety of foetuses. The high-intensity ultrasound radiation may reach the foetus, endangering its health and development. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority are of the opinion that ultrasound cavitation must not be performed during pregnancy. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health intends to make a proposal to establish limiting values for the non-medical use of ultrasound in the major overhaul of the Radiation Act.

The control of non-ionizing radiation is primarily based on the Radiation Act (592/1991) and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health Decree on the Limitation of Public Exposure to Non-Ionizing Radiation (294/2002). The maximum values and recommendations specified in the decree are not applied to exposure involving non-ionizing radiation being purposefully targeted at a person to perform an examination or procedure ordered by a physician, or for the purposes of a scientific study that has been properly approved and is monitored by a physician. The Regional State Administrative Agencies grant permits to private healthcare units.

Radiation Act Overhaul

The Radiation Act is currently being renewed. The new Radiation Act will enter into force in 2018. With regard to non-ionizing radiation, the aim of the overhaul is to update and harmonize the legislation concerning different types of radiation. More information on the upcoming changes will be available as the project advances. The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Finland is responsible for the distribution of information during the course of the project.

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