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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Sunscreen Down Under
It may seem like the wrong time to talk about sunscreen when we're out of the infernal equinox and heading toward colder climes but this story is out of Australia where things are a bit different.

Seems that people think that just putting on clothes will help protect them from the sun's UV rays. Not so... The average T-shirt has an SPF factor of around 5. Tightly woven stuff like denim does better but that's not exactly considered a summer fabric.

Aussies are not very found of staying inside so in their quest for a safe way to get out and about here comes a UV-absorbing chemical compound called Tinosorb FD, which is made by Switzerland's Ciba Specialty Chemicals. "Based on a slight modification of a molecule that has been used as a brightening agent in detergents for years, Tinosorb FD consists of a UVA-absorbing portion to which two UVB-absorbing (the shorter wavelength version of UV light that's actually more dangerous than UVA) structures are bound. Visible light is not absorbed, so the compound doesn't affect colors. The chemical penetrates the fibers but they will not feel any different, said Ellen Werner, a spokeswoman for Ciba."

The chemical is used in a product called Radiant 3 in 1 Colour Care laundry detergent and, according to the manufacturer, washing your clothes with it can increase the sun protection provided by your clothing so the garments block at least 96 percent of UV radiation. (SPF 15 blocks about 92 percent.) Cool...

I know, this sounds like one of those light-weight pieces that just fill space but there are 100 million Americans afflicted with skin cancer each year. Not cool.

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Comments on this Item:
These will protect you from UV rays...

"but there are 100 million Americans afflicted with skin cancer each year." I don't think so.

Nearly 60,000 diagnosed with some kind of skin cancer in the US in 2003. Lots of people get it that aren't diagnosed, though.

I look forward to the study that shows this compound gets absorbed through the skin of people and affects pregnant women, causing developmental issues .. or any of myriad other afflictions.

If you don't like radiation, move to the Dead Sea. At 1300ft BELOW sea level, the atmosphere there is so dense that it filters out most of the UV radiation from the sun. Crazy.


For my high school news paper I am doing a story on weblogs and i was wondering if I could ask you guys some questons and mention this blog.
I'm searching for political and scientific blogs in order to show that this is not just a bunch of whiney little emo kids who feel the need to tell the internet about how their unfair life is. Thanks very much and i'll send my questions after i get a reply.


Traci-etc. Why don't you e-mail us at

I think taking the candy apple with you would have been a better solution.

Todd, that number is straight from the American Cancer Association. You have a problem with it, or if you think you know more than the folk over there do, take it up with them.

Tracy, why don´t you email the principal authors at You will probably get a response there, and then you aren´t clogging the comments area. If you don´t get a response from that email, email me at and I will make sure it comes to the attention of A&B.

You looked at the picture, huh, Cyrus? ;-)

Just doing my job :). We all know things go into that mailbox and die an early death.

Is the t-shirt SPF thing accepted science? Because I have burn in 10 minutes skin and I have NEVER had a sun burn through clothing. Anecdotal, I know, but sometimes I think things are said for reasons other than science . . . .

-Tom in Laguna Niguel

Tom - different fabrics done in different weaves will, naturally, produce different spf factors. I believe the reference was to a light cotton t-shirt.

I had the same problem. My mother cured me. When I was a child she took me out to Orchard Beach and we stayed there until I blistered and developed a fever. (She was Sicilian, so not a problem.) And it worked! After the second, when I couldn't walk for a week and couldn't go out in the sun at all for two more weeks, my pediatrician told my mother that if she ever did that again he'd have her arrested. Voila! No more sunburns!

For anyone who thinks skin cancer only happens to other people, Go for a visit one day to a hospice and see for yourself the destruction of skin cancer

As an Aussie I know how important sun protection is. We are taught all through our lives in Oz to slip-slop=slap etc. This was a very interesting story for me and no doubt more research will be done in Australia due to our fear/respect of the sun, as we are outside in it most of the time.

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