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Antibacterial textiles

Aims to investigate the production of fibres and fabrics with semi-permanent antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal and deodorising properties.

The aim of the project is to produce semi-permanent or permanent antibacterial fabrics used for lingerie, socks, underwear, sportswear, shoes linings, hosiery, clothes and medical equipment. One of the major effects of pollution is the deterioration of immunity in the human body. In recent years there have been reports of high incidences of atipic dermatitis, eczema, itching and irritation of the skin. The main causes of these health problems are microorganisms found in the environment and which need humidity and organic material for growth. Textiles materials, coupled with humidity, dust and temperature, offer ideal conditions for developing such microorganisms. For example, Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes a lot of clinical diseases such as: - bacteremia with ecthyma gangrenosum of the skin being common; - wound infection; - pulmonary diseases, especially among individuals with cystic infections; - endocarditis, meningitis; - infection after burns. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is usually resistant to many common antibiotics. Treatments of severe infections require double drug therapy with powerful antibiotics. Pseudomonas fluorescens and putida causes clinical diseases: urinary tract infections, abscesses (post surgical), eritema, septic arthritis, wound infections. Staphylococcus aureus: produces extra cell proteins that affect red blood cell and leukocytes, causing severe tissue damage and enterotoxins associated with gastrointestinal diseases. The abuse of antibiotics generates "super-strain" microorganisms that are genetically mutated. This phenomenon has generated serious concern worldwide. Microorganisms grow everywhere that they find humidity and organic materials. Textile materials, especially naturals materials such as cotton, silk and wool, are ideal growth media for bacteria. These materials could increase the transmission of infectious diseases, particularly in hospitals. The bacteria also develop an unpleasant odour on textiles exposed to perspiration, producing spots on textiles and even destroying these materials. The greater use of synthetic fibres and blends in such items as shirts, hosiery, blouses, and underwear has accelerated the need for bacterio-static finishes on clothing. The moisture-transport characteristics of such blends tend to cause a greater degree of "perspiration wetness" than occurs with fabrics of wholly natural fibres. Accordingly, it would be very advantageous if clothes, which directly contact the skin, can be treated so as to prevent infectious diseases of the skin, improve skin immunity and suppress skin dryness, roughness and itching. For this reason, the prevention of microorganism attacks on textiles and wearers of textile articles has become very important to consumers and textile producers. The most important classes of antibacterial substances are: - organic: quaternary ammonium salts, chloro-ether phenols, organic-metal, organic-silicones and antibiotics; - inorganic: metallic salts; - natural compounds: chitosan, plant active extracts. These antibacterial compounds are added to the textile materials by different types of procedures: - as finishes at the final stages; - by incorporation into the spinning stage of the fibre. The antibacterial substances could be bactericides (destroying bacteria) or bacterio-static (reducing the bacteria growth). This project aims to develop a process for producing anti-bacterial and deodorising textile materials which can effectively deliver natural bactericides to skin and eliminate body odours, especially a perspiration odour etc., and have satisfactory resistance to washing. The antibacterial fabrics will be used for lingerie, socks, underwear, sportswear, shoes linings, hosiery, clothes and medical equipment. The compounds used to achieve the goal of the project should have the following properties: - durability to washing, perspiration, temperature and humidity; - selective activity towards undesirable organisms; - compatibility with other finishes and dyes; - non-toxic to humans; - environmentally friendly; - adequate wear comfort for consumers. The types of bacteria causing infectious diseases have changed with development of antibiotics used. As a result, infectious diseases caused by bacteria that usually show only low pathogenicity or virulence have increased. Traditional antibiotics are not effective against serious infections; strains of different types of bacteria having a tendency to increase tolerance to newly developed antibiotics. Bacteria and/or fungi could come from several sources like water, soil, plants, animals, or microorganisms, and could be a real danger for human beings, especially in the case of a weak immune system. This project will help SMEs (Small and Medium sized Enterprises) in the T/C industry to produce textile fibres, yarns and woven and non-woven fabrics with antibacterial properties. The new fibre will protect humans against diseases such as allergies, unpleasant odours or illnesses which can occur when the skin's bacteria level becomes too high or too low. It will do so by maintaining the body's natural balance of bacteria on the skin. The bacterio-static-bactericide agent will be included in the yarn's polymer matrix. The nano-sized particles will maximise the surface area giving an optimum antibacterial effect. The controlled antimicrobial delivery system ensures a slow yet sustainable release of the antimicrobial onto the entire substrate. As a result, the treated textiles show a remarkable wash durability that far exceeds what can be achieved with currently available products. The fibre will have semi-permanent antibacterial properties so there will be no danger of migration of chemicals from the fabric to the skin or of a reduction in performance over time. The fabrics are designed for comfort, softness and durability, and will be suitable for garments such as active wear, underwear, socks, hosiery and shoe linings. Keywords: UV-rays (Ultra Violet), sun protection, textiles.
Acronym: 
BIOTEX
Project ID: 
3 286
Start date: 
01-06-2004
Project Duration: 
79months
Project costs: 
1 410 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Textiles Technology
Market Area: 
Clothing, shoes and accessories (including jewellery)

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.