WebMD Health News
Louise Chang, MD
Oct. 16, 2009 -- Darker colors in cotton fabric provide better protection
against the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays than lighter tones, new research
Scientists in Spain say people should "think blue or red" instead of yellow
when choosing clothing, because the darker hues on cotton fabrics offer better
skin protection against the sun.
Their study is published in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry
Ascension Riva, PhD, of the Universidad Politecnica de Cataluna, and
colleagues used computer models to estimate levels of UV protection achieved
with three fabric dyes -- red, blue, and yellow.
The researchers dyed cotton fabrics a range of red, blue and yellow shades
and measured the effectiveness of each dyed fabric to protect against UV
Fabrics with darker or more intense colors had better UV protection, the
researchers say, and yellow shades offered the least.
The scientists say clothing manufacturers could use information from the
study to design clothing that provides better protection against harmful
The researchers note that gaps exist in knowledge about exactly how color
interacts with other factors to influence a fabric's ability to block harmful
rays. They add that numerous studies have concluded that lighter-colored
sportswear worn in summer months does not provide enough protection.
The researchers write that "the color of cotton woven fabrics is a factor
that has a remarkable influence on their protection against ultraviolet
radiation" and that "the diffuse transmittance of ultraviolet radiation through
the fabrics diminishes when any of the studied dyestuffs is applied."
SOURCES:News release, American Chemical Society.Riva, A. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, Nov. 4,
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