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Comparison of methods: determination of UV protection of clothing.

  • Gambichler, Thilo
  • Altmeyer, Peter
  • Hoffmann, Klaus
Published Article
Recent results in cancer research. Fortschritte der Krebsforschung. Progrès dans les recherches sur le cancer
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2002
PMID: 12079238


Based on spectrophotometric measurements and mathematical calculations, the ultraviolet (UV) protection factor of a textile is determined in vitro. This technique is the most established test method for the determination of UV protection of a garment. However, the validity and practicality of the in vitro UV protection factor (UPF) determined in the laboratory has been a controversial issue with regard to its significance in the field. Several studies have verified the in vitro UPF by comparing it with various in vivo test protocols using solar-simulated radiation for the determination of the minimal erythema dose. The data inconsistency between these studies is certainly due to different methodology. Furthermore, UV dosimetry is a suitable method for quantifying UV transmission through a garment. Chemical dosimeters (e.g. polysulfone films) and biological UV detector films have been used in in vivo-simulated studies in the form of small portable badges monitoring solar UV transmittance through garments on manikins and mobile subjects. As sunlight consists to a considerable extent of diffuse radiation, which is more scattered and absorbed by the fabric than direct radiation, UPF values obtained by measurements in real exposure situations are usually higher than those obtained by conventional in vitro and in vivo testing with collimated radiation beams. Thus the discrepancy between laboratory-based testing and field-based measurements may be due to different radiation geometry of UV sources. Taken together, the in vitro method is the most practicable and inexpensive method for routine measurements of UPF, but dosimetry seems to be a highly useful method for determining the UPF in real exposure situations.

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