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Integrated UV protection in functional clothing

UV rays are electromagnetic rays which are invisible to the human eye. They are a part of the sun’s rays. The effects of UV rays are unfortunately not felt until it is too late – you are already sunburnt. UV rays penetrate deep into the skin and can cause cell damage – this results in sunburn and skin ageing. Too much UV exposure can lead to permanent skin damage and skin cancer. It is therefore particulary important to protect yourself properly against the sun’s harmful rays .

In the mountains you are particularly exposed to UVA and UVB rays: UV rays in-crease by 10-15% per 1000m altitude, and snow and ice reflect 40-90% of the rays. This means that mountaineers and ski tourers get a that much higher dose of UV rays. Clothing with integrated UV protection exists which shields and protects the body against these harmful rays. The quality of the protection against the sun afforded by clothing does however depend on the thickness, fibre, colour (dyes and depth) and special features.

The best protection is given by polyester materials, followed by nylon, wool or silk clothing. Cotton, viscose or linen give comparatively less protection than the materials mentioned above.

The UV protection afforded by a particular garment is given as the UPF value (Ultra-violet Protection Factor).

The Australian/New Zealand standard AZ/NZS 4399:1996 is used for stating the UV protection of VAUDE clothing:

UPF 50+*: excellent UV protection, more than 98% of the UV rays are blocked.

UPF 25*: very good UV protection, c. 96% of UV rays are blocked.

If the various protective measures agains ultra violet radiation are compared, we can see clearly that clothing with integrated UV protection affords the greatest security radiation.

UV protection                                  UV protection factor
UV protective clothing..............................20-80
Thick cotton clothing...................................c. 20
Sun cream used correctly........................... 0-30
Light cotton clothing...................................c. 10
Shade of a tree..........................................c. 5-15
Sun hat with broad rim...............................c. 10
Shade of a sunshade.....................................c. 5

 

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