Absorptance losses in MgF2, CaF2 and BaF2 during 193-nm (DUV) and 157-nm (VUV) irradiation are investigated by employing a high-resolution laser calorimetric technique which allows the determination of both single- and two-photon absorptance at energy densities up to 110 mJ/cm2. A strong wavelength dependence of the DUV and VUV absorption characteristics is observed: while effective two-photon absorption takes place at 193 nm, either no similar effect at all (in the case of BaF2) or only a very minor effect (CaF2) is observed at 157 nm. A first explanation for this absorption behaviour is given, implying the energetic band structure of CaF2. In addition it is shown that, due to the strong nonlinear dependency, above a critical energy density the absorptance at 193 nm can exceed the absorptance at 157 nm. Furthermore, different single- and two-photon absorption coefficients are determined for different CaF2 samples at 193 nm, indicating a two-step absorption mechanism. In addition, laser-induced aging is found in a MgF2 sample at 193 nm, but not at 157 nm.