Although clothing has been used for protection against solar exposure for thousands of years, in modern times sun protective clothing was popularized (but not exclusively used) in Australia as an option or adjunct to sunscreen lotions and sunblock creams. Sun protective clothing and UV protective fabrics in Australia now follow a lab-testing procedure regulated by a federal agency: ARPANSA. This standard was established in 1996 after work by Australian swimwear companies. The British standard was established in 1998. The NRPB (National Radiological Protection Board) forms the basis of the British Standards Institute standard. Using the Australian method as a model, the USA standard was formally established in 2001, and now employs a more stringent testing protocol: This method includes fabric longevity, abrasion/wear and wash ability. UPF testing is now very widely used on clothing used for outdoor activities. The original UPF rating system was enhanced in the United States by the ASTM (American Standards and Testing Methods) to qualify and standardize the emerging sun protective clothing and textile industry. The FDA had reviewed clothing making sun protection claims (SPF, % UV blockage, or skin cancer prevention claims) in 1992. Only one brand of sun protective clothing, Solumbra, was reviewed and cleared under medical device regulations. The FDA initially regulated sun protective clothing as a medical device, but later transferred oversight for general sun protective clothing to the FTC. The UPF rating system may eventually be adopted by interested apparel and domestic textile/fabric manufacturers in the industry at large as a "value added" program strategic to complement consumer safety and consumer awareness.
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