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Blue clothes best for sun protection

20th October 2009

The colours used to dye clothing vary widely in terms of their ability to shield the body from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, according to a recent Spanish study.

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The study could lead to a better understanding of sun protection.

Many people assume that since yellow is closer to white than blue or red, it would offer better protection against UV rays than darker colours.

However, the results of the study show that dark blue and red fared better than yellow and a host of other colours in terms of their ability to shut out cancer-causing UV rays.

AscensiĆ³n Riva and his colleagues said that there were gaps in people's knowledge about how the colour of a garment influences other factors that come into play when considering harmful UV rays.

Using computers to model their data, the researchers dyed cotton fabrics a wide range of red, yellow, and blue shades and hues.

Using lengthy equations to make assessments of UV absorption, the scientists showed that people can choose clothing that will provide better UV protection.

Riva and colleagues said that good protection can be achieved with very thin fabrics if they are dyed with very high intensities of dye, and that if the colour used to dye the fabric is pale.

They also found that, if a fabric has a loose weave, it does not protect against UV as well as a tightly woven one might.

On the other hand, if a fabric has a tight weave, even a little dye is enough to provide a large increase in UV protection.

Of all the coloured dyes tested by the researchers, dark blue provided the best UV protection.

 

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