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All types of UV can cause a photochemical effect within the polymer structure, which can lead to the degradation of the material. The higher energy UVC is the type most likely to affect plastics.

Absorbed UV energy can excite the photons in a plastic. Exciting the photons can create free radicals. While many pure plastics cannot absorb UV radiation, the presence of catalyst residues and other impurities (examples: oxygen and sodium), even in trace amounts, will often act as free radical receptors. Those free radicals can cause breaks in the polymer bonds.

Title: What does UV radiation actually do to degrade plastics?
Description: Absorbed UV energy can excite the photons in a plastic.
Published: 12/11/2009
Last Edited: 1/16/2023

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