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ASTM D5272-08(2013)

Standard Practice for Outdoor Exposure Testing of Photodegradable Plastics

Standard Practice for Outdoor Exposure Testing of Photodegradable Plastics D5272-08R13 ASTM|D5272-08R13|en-US Standard Practice for Outdoor Exposure Testing of Photodegradable Plastics Standard new BOS Vol. 08.03 Committee D20
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Significance and Use

4.1 When discarded as litter, articles made using photodegradable plastics are subject to attack by daylight (particularly solar-ultraviolet radiation), oxygen, heat, and water. The 5° exposure angle used in this practice represents typical conditions for degradation experienced by litter.

4.2 This practice requires characterization of the duration of exposure in terms of solar-ultraviolet radiation. Solar-ultraviolet radiation varies considerably as a function of location and time of year. This can cause dramatic differences in the time required to produce a specified level of degradation in a polymer. Daro4 has shown that when the same lot of polyethylene containing an iron-salt prodegradant is exposed at various times of the year in a single location, the time required to produce an average of two chain scissions per molecule varied by over 130 %. Daro, and Zerlaut and Anderson5 have shown that this variability can be significantly reduced when total solar or solar-ultraviolet radiation, or both, is used to characterize the exposure increments.

4.3 In addition to variations in level of daylight and solar-ultraviolet radiation, there are significant differences in temperature, and moisture stresses between different locations, and between different years, or periods within a single year, at a single location. Because of this variability, results from this test cannot be used to predict the absolute rate at which photodegradable plastics degrade. Results from this test can be used to compare relative rates of degradation for materials exposed at the same time in the same location. Results from multiple exposures of a common lot of material (during different seasons over several years) at different sites can be used to compare the relative rates at which a particular photodegradable plastic will degrade in each location.

Note 2An inherent limitation in solar-radiation measurements is that they do not reflect the effects of variations in temperature and moisture exposure, which often can be as important as solar radiation. The same solar-ultraviolet radiation increment will not necessarily give the same changes in properties of the test specimen in different exposure sites. Results from this practice must be regarded as giving only a general indication of the degree of degradability and should always be considered in terms of characteristics of the exposure site as well.

4.4 Where measurement of total solar-ultraviolet radiation is not possible, exposure duration can be determined by the number of days, weeks, or months exposed. When this practice is used, a reference material whose degradation properties have been well established must be exposed at the same time as the other materials being tested. The reference material used must be agreed upon by all interested parties. The time to produce a specified level of degradation for each material in this simultaneous exposure is then compared. It is also a good practice to use reference materials when exposure length is determined by total solar or solar UV radiant exposure.

Note 3A reference material can be a single lot of material which has shown consistent results after a number of exposures. It is not necessary that the composition or properties of the reference material be characterized and certified by a recognized standards agency or group.


1.1 This practice defines test conditions applicable when Practices D1435 and G7 are employed for the outdoor exposure testing of photodegradable plastics.

1.2 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

Note 1There is no known ISO equivalent to this standard.
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Book of Standards Volume: 08.03
Developed by Subcommittee: D20.96
Pages: 4
DOI: 10.1520/D5272-08R13
ICS Code: 83.040.01