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UV protection clothing- a practical approach to sun care

Ultraviolet is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength from 10 nm to 400 nm, shorter than that of visible light but longer than X-rays. Ultraviolet radiation is part of the electromagnetic (light) spectrum that reaches the earth from the sun.

UV Protection Clothing, SGS
Figure 1: with UV protection, including UV protective apparel the human skin can get the needed protection.

Skin is the largest organ of the human body that protects us from the environment, regulate heat, prevent water loss, touch and pain sensor. Sun protection is important because sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the world. The UV radiation from the sun is associated with about 90% of all skin cancers.

The good news is skin cancer is highly preventable with UV protection, including UV protective apparel, sunglasses, sunscreens and reducing sun exposure between 10 AM to 4 PM (UV rays are strongest).

UV can lead to the degradation of a textile like heat, it can initiate chemical reactions in polymers which result in the breakdown of those polymers and the loss of their physical and chemical properties.

The amount and type of damage caused by UV radiation depend on the nature of the fibers or filaments from which the textile is made. The penetration of UV radiation in nylon, for example, result in a decrease in elasticity and tensile strength.

Exposure to UV radiation leads to a deterioration in its color, strength, and resiliency in both dry and wet conditions. (Reference: Global Apparel Markets, No 35 April 2017)

Currently, manufacturers and retailers in the UK and Europe are testing items according to EN 13758-1 and have been setting a UPF value of 40 or more as a minimum performance standard and a maximum of 5% UVA transmission for claims of UV protection as required by EN 13758-2.

In order to fulfill the essential health & safety requirement to absorb or reflect the majority of harmful wavelengths, it is understood that the minimum requirements for UPF and UVA from EN 13758-2 satisfy this need.

  • Sun exposure causes skin damage
  • Only covered areas are protected
  • The protection offered by this item may be reduced with use or if stretched or wet

Other countries and regions are also using different test standard to evaluate UV protection of clothing complying relevant method. Below are the common test methods used in different countries like US, UK, Europe, China and Australia respectively.

  • AATCC 183
  • BS EN 13758-1
  • GB/T 18830
  • AS/NZS 4399

There is also the issue of repeated laundering on the protection level. To this end, it is strongly advised that the UPF performance is measured again after multiple wash cycles (e.g. 5 washes) so that any reduction of performance can be quantified. This information should then be communicated to the buyer in the information leaflet provided with the product.

UV testing lab, SGS Bangladesh
Figure 2: SGS Bangladesh lab has rigorous testing capacity to help the textile companies developing ultraviolet (UV) protective clothing.

It is important to note that garments such as swim and beachwear may not fulfill the requirements for body coverage specified in EN 13758-2.

With growing public awareness about the dangers of excessive exposure to the sun, some sectors of the textile industry responded by developing ultraviolet (UV) protective clothing.

While baby clothes and children’s swimwear initially dominated this niche market, UV fabric manufacturers now produce lightweight and breathable adult-wear that is also functional and fashionable.

If you create UV protection fabrics and/or garments, our rigorous testing can help you raise the quality of your outputs and achieve your commercial aims.

For example, because our tests are acknowledged by the world’s standards authorities, you can use our results as the scientific proof behind your marketing claims.

Contact SGS Bangladesh now to find out how we can test your functional treatments according to international standards and provide results that improve fabric quality and performance.

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