Occupational exposures to solar ultraviolet (UV-AB) radiation can result in significant health risks including accelerated skin aging, sun burn and skin cancer. Personal protective clothing has been shown to provide useful barriers against such radiation exposures. However, the protection offered by clothing can vary significantly depending on layering, stretch, composition, color, and moisture content. Controlled laboratory tests were performed to determine the penetration characteristics of UV-AB radiation through selected textile materials including natural fibers as well as synthetic fibers. Effects of layering, stretch, color, and moisture content were assessed for an irradiance level (UV-AB) of 11.5 watts/m2. The results showed that layering decreased the UV radiation penetration exponentially for all fabric samples tested. The results also revealed that sample stretching increased UV radiation penetration by 4%, while white colored samples exhibited up to 5% higher penetration than the dark colored fabric samples. Adding moisture to the fabric samples also increased the penetration by an additional 2%. Considering this combination of factors, it becomes clear that protection offered by fabrics will vary greatly from one scenario to another depending on the combination of layering, stretch, color, and moisture content experienced. Therefore, current recommended ultraviolet radiation exposure limits should be adjusted to accommodate this knowledge.
Ramage, Jordan, "Ultraviolet Radiation Penetration Through Clothing" (2015). College of Health Sciences Presentations. 15.