GENEVA — The World Health Organization late last month kicked off an educational campaign intended to convince people to take more seriously the health risks posed by exposure to the ultraviolet rays in natural sunlight, which cause sunburn and can be a contributing cause of skin cancer. WHO scientists reacted warmly to a proposed European Union action that would impose standards on clothing marketed as protecting the wearer from the sun’s rays.

While all clothing provides some measure of protection from ultraviolet rays, scientists have found that many factors, including fabric density and construction, can influence how well a garment protects the skin it covers. The EU is considering requiring clothing makers to prove their wares have a sun protection factor of 40 if they wish to market them as effective protection from UV rays.

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