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UV Effect on Plastics – You Need to Know

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Knowledge of the effects of UV-C exposure on various materials is useful to manufacturers and users of UV products.
Table of Content


You perhaps are aware of the main effect of ultraviolet (UV) radiation on humans. Or better still experienced some of the effects.

If you are unlucky – you have ended up with a red nose after a day out in the sun.

It is not only our skin that suffers, polymers and plastics are equally affected by exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet radiation.

uv stabilizers for plastics main
uv stabilizers for plastics main

Here we will cover the following

  • Dangers of UV rays,
  • UV energy,
  • Plastics that are vulnerable to degradation, 
  • Detecting UV attacks on plastics, 
  • Anti UV chemicals,
  • And UV-resistant polymers.

Let’s get right into it!

What are the dangers of UV rays?

UV is a part of electromagnetic radiation. The ultraviolet radiation is split into three types. These are:

  • UVA
  • UVB
  • UVC

The UV rays cause the destruction of plastics and health problems in humans. Here are some health problems associated with UV rays.

Uv Light
Uv Light

Skin cancer

Most skin cancers arise from unprotected exposure to UV radiation. Skin cancer has also been linked to man-made sources or UV radiation

Premature aging

This UV radiation causes the skin to become thick and wrinkled. Over 90% of the visual skin, changes are caused by the sun UV radiation. Proper protection from UV radiation can stop premature aging.

Eye problems

Cataracts and other forms of eye damage are a result of UV radiation. Cataracts cause loss of transparency in the eyes lens vision. Uv radiation increases the likelihood of cataracts. These can be protected by proper eye care glasses.

Immune suppression

Science says that over-exposure to UV radiation inhibits the proper working of the body’s immune system. Overexposure to UV radiation can weaken the immune system reducing the skin’s ability to fight diseases.

How is Plastic Affected by UV?

UV Energy

When absorbed by plastics, UV energy can excite protons. Then, degradation occurs, as catalyst residues act as receptors. 

Lots of pure plastics fail to absorb UV radiation, risking your project and its components.

How to Avoid UV Degradation

You, avoid UV degradation in plastics by using blockers, stabilizers, or absorbers. Benzophenones and other organic compounds can also absorb UV light and emit it as heat.

A few examples of materials where UV stabilizers can eliminate the problem of UV deterioration include:

Most of these materials are not  UV resistant. They have to be specially treated. Why buy your products, check for UV-resistant details.

Another material is carbon black that offers black coloration and reduces the risk of degradation. It provides protective surface coatings. The carbon black is a low-cost option. 

Which Plastics are Susceptible to UV Degradation?

Many plastics are susceptible to degradation. The 2 plastics with increased risks are

  • Polypropylene (PP) 
  • Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) 

The ultraviolet rays react with carbon bonds within the chain structure. It then interacts with oxygen in the atmosphere. Thereafter the carbonyl groups in the chain are produced. The parts or components exposed become prone to discoloration and cracking.

Detection of  UV Attack on Plastics 

If the plastic has been affected by ultraviolet rays, you may notice a

  • Chalky appearance
  • Surface component  becoming brittle
  • Change  in color on the surface of the material

Is there a way such UV interference can be detected early? 

The signs are cracks in a product. These signs can be detected by infrared spectroscopy. It works to detect carbon groups before they cause problems.

uv stablizier 2
uv stablizier 2

How UV Chemicals Help

The anti UV chemicals can be used when mixing the ingredients before using injection molding to shape the product. This protects a future UV attack by way of sunlight can be prevented.

The chemicals used in preventative measures have similarities to those used in sun cream. The sunscreen protects the skin from UV rays attack. Similarly, the UV stabilizers added to plastics act in the same way.

But it isn’t solely UV rays that pose a risk to plastics. Other environmental conditions such as light, heat, and chemicals play part in the degradation of plastics used in your projects.

Changes to the polymer are also caused by acids, alkalis, and salts. This results in chemical disintegration or biodegradation. These changes can reduce the molecular weight of a polymer.

ultraviolet absorbers
ultraviolet absorbers

The Good and the Bad Plastics

Polypropylene isn’t suitable in projects which will be exposed to UV rays. This because of the chemical structure of polypropylene.  It degrades highly when exposed to UV light. In instances where a component will be subjected to long-term UV exposure, you should steer clear of such materials.

 Polypropylene manages six days before losing 70% of its strength as a result of UV rays. 

You should ascertain the materials you need well in advance of your project. Consider the application of the component and the environment it will be used.

Polyester is a good candidate for UV exposure. The performance of these plastics when compared to polypropylene is great.


If plastic is to be exposed to direct sunlight, the manufacture must specify suitable testing standards and make sure the plastic has an appropriate formulation to maintain the desired long-term properties. 

The greatest effect in the prevention of UV degradation occurs as a result of good design – that which minimizes the UV exposure and good materials selection.

What are suitable choices of materials for UV-exposed applications hold well? 

Knowledge of the effects of UV-C exposure on various materials is useful to manufacturers and users of UV  products. 

As a reliable UV stabilized products manufacturer and supplier, we offer a 5-year warranty. So, if your netting or tarpaulins cover fail under normal applications, we can offer you a free replacement service within a warranty period. 

Since we use top-quality material that is UV stabilized, our products are unlikely to degrade within the period. Therefore, you can enjoy a long time by choosing our products.

If you have any inquiries or uncertainties on buying or importing the netting/tarpaulins, please feel free to contact us at email or visit our website

Hey, I’m Kevin Lyu, the founder of , Family-run business
An expert of agriculture protection textile specialist .
In the past 26 years, we have helped 55 countries and 150+ Clients like farms, orchards , vineyards to protect their plants. The purpose of this article is to share with the knowledge related to agriculture growing protection for making the plant healthier and stronger.
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Kevin Lyu
Agrotextile Specialists

Hey, I’m the author of this post,
In the past 26 years, we have helped 55 countries and 150+ Clients like farms, orchards, and vineyards to protect their plants and crops. 
If you have any problems with it,
call us for a free, no-obligation quote
or discuss your solution.

We are at your disposal for any technical or commercial information


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