There are a multitude of environmental influences which negatively effect carpet but none so often disregarded or not thought of as the effects of ultra violet light. Ultra violet lights primary source is the sun but it can also come from certain types of artificial light. The largest problem created by UV light is the loss of color in a textile floorcovering product. We say a textile floorcovering product because that’s the subject of this discussion.
However, UV light is not prejudiced in it’s effects. Sunlight will fade anything colored. A good example is orange safety cones used during road construction which are faded from exposure. Compared to their newer neighbors, you’ll see the difference in brightness and depth of color.
PROBLEMS CAUSED BY UV LIGHT
We also continually hear about the damaging effects of UV light on our skin. Loss of elasticity, premature wrinkles, burning and melanoma are all maladies proven to be caused by continued exposure to the sun. How then could you possibly dispute the fact that UV light will also damage any other man made material exposed to it, especially when that material is heat and light sensitive?
Carpet is just such a product. Taking it a step further any color that has a red dye component in it will be more adversely affected since red dyes are particularly sensitive to UV light. Remember the orange road cones. Orange certainly has a great deal of red dye component in it. Solution dyed yarns are not immune to the effects of UV light either. The orange cones again, they’re solution dyed and they fade as they sit outside in the open.
The use of UV inhibiting windows, relative to the protection of carpet from the harmful effects of the sun, is not insurance that a red dye based color won’t fade. With repeated exposure on a daily basis, fading is inevitable. Even if you add sheer draperies there will still be color loss. Only if you completely block the sun will there be no effect.
Even a light color like beige will experience fading if it contains the slightest bit of red. This can also occur from certain types of artificial lighting, particularly that found in offices.
We know that sunlight will fade the carpet; and depending on the yarn system, dye fastness and depth of shade can be affected. Even vinyl flooring constantly exposed to UV light will be damaged. This usually starts with little dark spots and grows to one large dark brownish burned looking area; and it almost always appears in front of a sliding glass door.
Exposure to UV light can also result in degradation of the fiber. Due to the intensity of the heat and light, the yarn will be brittled, and eventually pulverized from literally being baked. This would be evidenced by both physical loss and little shreds of dust looking particles clinging to occupants’ shoes. We have seen this in office buildings where no heavy sunlight was present by UV- roducing overhead lighting was constantly bombarding the carpet.
To prevent UV damage, UV inhibitors are put into the fiber to protect the carpet from breaking down. However if the inhibitor is compromised, the protection is lost. How can this happen?
In a recent case, a consumer complained of her carpet wearing out in front of the living room windows. There was no inordinate traffic in this location and therefore, no unusually harsh abrasive action to physically wear away the fiber. When samples of the yarn from this area were tested we found the presence of an oxidizing agent. Oxidizers, found in many cleaning agents, can brittle the yarn. It can destroy the UV inhibitor as well as the fiber itself. Add a heavy dose of UV light to the equation, and the fiber will literally decompose. Even vacuuming will sweep the fiber away once it is broken down. In this case, that is just what happened.
The oxidizer destroyed the UV inhibitor, but brittled the fiber and, along with constant sun exposure broke down the yarn. The areas without oxidizer were not affected. Even from a northerly exposure, the least damaging of sunlight influences, there is enough UV light to cause this.
We all love the sun, it’s wonderful warmth and life- giving light, but it can also destroy as well. Think about this the next time you and your hot dogs get burned at a family outing, although you both were only exposed for a short period of time.