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.