Open Access Open Badges Research article

Protection against ultraviolet radiation by commercial summer clothing: need for standardised testing and labelling

Thilo Gambichler*, Sebastian Rotterdam, Peter Altmeyer and Klaus Hoffmann

Author Affiliations

Department of Dermatology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany

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BMC Dermatology 2001, 1:6  doi:10.1186/1471-5945-1-6

Published: 25 October 2001



The use of clothing as a means of sun protection has been recommended in recent education campaigns. Contrary to popular opinion, however, some fabrics provide insufficient ultraviolet (UV) protection.

Material and methods

We investigated 236 apparel textiles of the spring/summer collections 2000 and 2001. In accordance with the forthcoming European standard the UV protection factor (UPF) of the fabrics was determined spectrophotometrically.


Seventy-eight (33%) fabrics had UPF < 15, 45 (19%) had UPF = or > 15 and < 30, and 113 (48%) had UPF = or > 30 (30+). More than 70% of the wool, polyester, and fabric blends, and only less than 30% of the cotton, linen, and viscose fabrics had UPF values of 30+. Fabrics with black, navy-blue, white, green, or beige colours provided most frequently UPF values of 30+.


It is difficult for the sun-aware consumer to choose the 'right' garment, with a third of summer clothing providing insufficient UV protection and only half of the fabrics having UPF 30+, the UPF recommended by the European standard. Therefore, apparel summer fabrics should be measured and labelled in accordance with a standard document.