Economy-minded consumers who want protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays — but rather not pay premium prices for sun-protective clothing — should think blue and red, rather than yellow. Scientists in Spain are reporting that the same cotton fabric dyed deep blue or red provide greater UV protection than shades of yellow. Their study could lead to fabrics with better sun protection.
Ascensión Riva and colleagues explain that the color of a fabric is one of the most important factors in determining how well clothing protects against UV radiation. Gaps, however, exist in scientific knowledge about exactly how color interacts with other factors to influence a fabric's ability to block ultraviolet protection factor (UPF).
The scientists describe use of computer models that relate the level of UV protection achieved with three fabric dyes to their effects in changing the UPF of fabrics and other factors. In doing so, they dyed cotton fabrics in a wide range of red, blue, and yellow shades and measured the ability of each colored sample to absorb UV light.
Fabrics with darker or more intense colors tended to have better UV absorption. Deep blue shades offered the highest absorption, while yellow shades offered the least. Clothing manufacturers could use information from this study to better design sun-protective clothing, the scientists indicate.
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