9 March 2023

Investigating the health impact of non-ionising radiation used in cosmetic procedures is the focus of a PhD which is being supervised by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), the Monash University Accident Research Centre and Monash Law School.

While there are reports of injuries such as burns from popular cosmetic radiation procedures, the actual injury incidence is unknown.

Zoe Thomas says her PhD will look at media, legal and healthcare data to understand the risk from cosmetic radiation procedures like laser hair removal and IPL skin rejuvenation.

‘Consumers assume that because something is available it’s safe – but that’s not always the case,’ Ms Thomas said.

‘With the evidence from my PhD, we can recommend what the right level of protection or regulation should be to avoid injury.’

ARPANSA’s Health Impact Assessment Assistant Director, Associate Professor Ken Karipidis, will be co-supervising the project.

He says there is no national approach to regulation of devices or services that use non-ionising radiation for cosmetic purposes, except for the ban on solariums.

‘Further understanding of the injury burden will assist us in knowing what the right regulatory option should be,’ A/Prof Karipidis said.

At a state level, only Tasmania, Queensland and Western Australia have regulatory controls. But even then, it is only for certain optical cosmetic applications.

‘A review we published in 2022 highlighted the need to develop uniform training requirements for operators to provide these services and use these devices,’ A/Prof Karipidis said.

‘Zoe's PhD will help us form further evidence-based health advice to protect the public from radiation.’

ARPANSA has published national advice for consumers and treatment providers.

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