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Standards for Sun-Protective Clothing Under Development

Over exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun is associated with skin cancer, cataracts, and other disease, according to the United Nations Environment Program, a global advisory that has included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Temple University, Philadelphia., Pa.

They estimated “over two million non-melanoma skin cancers and 200,000 malignant melanomas occur globally each year,” and expect this to rise as stratospheric ozone decreases. Considering these figures, a credible assessment of the protection levels of sun-smart products is of prime importance to the public.

Since 1966, ASTM Subcommittee D13.65 on UV-Protective Fabrics and Clothing has been developing standards for UV-protective apparel to assess the sunburn-protection level of fabric and promote clear and consistent labeling.

From small businesses to clothing mills whose names are household words, a broad span of industry is creating these standards under the jurisdiction of ASTM Committee D13 on Textiles. “We have about 33 members officially on the subcommittee,” said Kathryn L. Hatch, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Arizona, Tucson, who chairs the ASTM subcommittee. “Some members are entrepreneurs who are developing UV fabrics and textile products. Other members represent established fabric manufacturers, garment manufacturers, and catalog retailers.” The American Sun Protection Association and manufacturers of UV-related testing instruments are also involved.

The group has developed an approved Standard Practice D 6544 for Preparation of Textiles Prior to Ultraviolet (UV) Transmission Testing, and is finalizing a proposed Standard Guide for Labeling of UV-Protective Textiles, which is expected to be published in early 2001.

According to Hatch, these documents, when combined with American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists Standard 183, Test Method for Transmittance or Blocking of Erythemally-Weighted Ultraviolet Radiation Through Fabrics, will provide excellent guidance for sampling, preparation, UV-transmittance testing, and labeling of UV-protective fabrics.

Clothing and textile industry stakeholders, consumers, and advocate groups are encouraged to join the subcommittee. Contact Professor Kathryn L. Hatch, Ph. D., School of Family and Consumer Sciences, College of Agriculture, The University of Arizona, Building 33 FCR, Tucson, AZ 85721-0033 (520/ 621-7134; fax: 520/621-9445). Committee D13 meets March 25-28 in Phoenix, Ariz. For meeting or membership information, contact Staff Manager Bode Hennegan, ASTM (610/832-9740). //

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