In 2018 the UV STANDARD 801 certification celebrates its 20th anniversary. The certification process establishes the UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor), which is used to specify the sun protection factor of textile materials.
Unlike other standards and methods, the UV STANDARD 801 certification measures the UPF of a textile taking into account the particular requirements to which it is subjected during its use.
The sun is life to us, but too much is harmful and ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause lasting damage to the eyes and skin. However, exposure to the sun is vital to the body’s ability to produce vitamin D, vital to bone development. The problem is that babies and young children have little or no protection, and therefore should only enjoy limited exposure to direct sunlight. It takes up to 15 years for the human body to develop full protection against harmful UV rays, but even then, this UV protection is only effective for a limited period of time, which could be only a few minutes depending on the type of skin, when exposed to direct sunlight outdoors.
What protects us from overexposure to UV rays?
When sunbathing, we usually use a sunscreen with UV protection. But even the most powerful of these, known as sunblock, only provides a sun protection factor (SPF) of 50. When you’re in the water or you dry off with a towel, your sunblock loses effectiveness and must be re-applied to ensure long-term protection.
Textiles also provide protection from the sun’s rays and the colour and design of the clothes are important: dark colours provide a higher level of protection than light and the denser the material, the greater the protection it provides against UV rays. In addition, synthetic fibres have a higher UV protection factor than products made from natural fibres.
How can you recognise textiles with UV protection?
The best way is to choose textiles that guarantee a high level of UV protection. Textiles with UV protection provide an extremely effective barrier against UV rays and depending on what they are made from, can provide a UPF of up to 80.
Unlike other standards and methods, the UV STANDARD 801 certification measures the UPF of a textile taking into account the particular demands to which it is subjected during its use. For swimsuits and sportswear, this could be, for example, aspects such as stretching and wear during use. In addition, the SPF is also affected during and after textile care. In the case of specific sun protection textiles such as umbrellas and awnings, various climatic conditions of sun, rain and humidity must be considered. As a result of these conditions, the protection time is drastically reduced (or in the worst case is almost completely lost), and this must also be reflected in the indicated UPF rating to avoid putting the user at risk. Accordingly, members of the International Association for Testing for UV-applied Protection recommend measuring the UV protection factor in accordance with UV STANDARD 801.