Clothing is considered one of the most important tools for sun protection. Contrary to popular opinion, however, some summer fabrics provide insufficient ultraviolet (UV) protection. The European Committee for Standardization (CEN), has developed a new standard on requirements for test methods and labelling of sun-protective garments. This document has now been completed and is published.
Within CEN, a working group, CEN/TC 248 WG14 ‘UV protective clothing’, was set up with the mission to produce standards on the UV-protective properties of textile materials. This working group started its activities in 1998 and included 30 experts (dermatologists, physicists, textile technologists, fabric manufacturers and retailers of apparel textiles) from 11 European member states. Within this working group, all medical, ethical, technical and economical aspects of standardization of UV-protective clothing were discussed on the basis of the expertise of each member and in consideration of the relevant literature in this field. Decisions were made in consensus.
The first part of the standard (EN 13758-1) deals with all details of test methods (e.g. spectrophotometric measurements) for textile materials and part 2 (EN 13758-2) covers classification and marking of apparel textiles. UV-protective cloths for which compliance with this standard is claimed must fulfill all stringent instructions of testing, classification and marking, including a UV protection factor (UPF) larger than 40 (UPF 40+), average UVA transmission lower than 5%, and design requirements as specified in part 2 of the standard. A pictogram, which is marked with the number of the standard EN 13758-2 and the UPF of 40+, shall be attached to the garment if it is in compliance with the standard.
The dermatology community should take cognizance of this new standard document. Garment manufacturers and retailers may now follow these official guidelines for testing and labelling of UV-protective summer clothes, and the sun-aware consumer can easily recognize garments that definitely provide sufficient UV protection.