ASTM Standards

ASTM Releases U.S. Standards for UV-Protective Textiles

Contact: Kathryn Hatch, Ph.D.
Chair, ASTM D13.65 Subcommitte
(520) 621-7134 or

West Conshohocken, PA, January 2001 ---- The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has released two standard documents (D6544 and D6603) related to textile products sold with a claim of being UV protective.

ASTM D6544 "Standard Practive for Preparation of Textiles Prior to Ultraviolet (UV) Transmission Testing" is unique among the world's UV Textile documents. It was drafted to ensure that the UV protection claimed on labels reflects the least or lowest degree of protection when the fabric is new. To accomplish this, fabric will be required to undergo 40 launderings, exposure to 100 AATCC fading units of simulated sunlight, and simulated exposure to chlorinated water (for swimsuit fabrics) prior to UV transmission testing. A unique inclusion in ASTM D6544 is reference to ASTM sampling documents to help ensure that label information is specific to a production lot.

ASTM D6603 "Standard Guide for Labeling of UV-Protective Textiles" requires UV-protective clothing to be labeled with a UltraViolet Protection Factor (UPF) value. The lowest possible value is 15 UPF and the highest is 50+ UPF. D6603 adopts the Australian/New Zealand classification categories are then: Good UV protection when the UPF is 15 - 24, very good UV protection when the UPF is 25 - 39, or Excellent UV Protection UV protection when the UPF is 40 - 50+. UPF is a relative ranking of the UV protective capabilities of a textile and is the correct designator for the UV protection provided by a fabric. Products may claim that skin covered by the UV-protective fabric is protected against sun exposure and sunburn. Products may not clain that they prevent skin cancer or photoaging of the skin.

"When combined with AATCC 183, these new standards provide excellent guidance for the sampling, preparation, UV Transmittance testing, and labeling of UV-Protective fabrics," said Dr. Kathryn Hatch, ASTM D13.65 Subcommittee Chair and Uiversity of Arizona Textile Professor. "Manufacturers of UV-Protective fabrics and clothing should access and adopt these new standards with due haste for their own legal protection and, ultimately, the health and safety of their consumers."

Over exposure to the sun's radiation is associated with serious skin and eye damage, including skin cancer. Over 1.3 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the U.S. This figure is expected to increase annually unless precautions are taken to reduce sun exposure. Clothing with UV-protective properties may help reduce exposure to harmful UVA and UVB rays.

The Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Products Safety Commission have assisted in the development on the new standards. They intend to ensure that all textile products that claim to be UV-Protective have been prepared, tested, and labeled according to the AATCC and ASTM standards.

Established in 1898, ASTM is one of the world's largest voluntary standards development organizations. ASTM standards are among the most widely accepted and used documents in the world. The acquire licensed copies of the new standards, or more information, contact Ms. Bode Hennegan at ASTM at 610-832-9740.