As far as health-related professions are concerned, protection from pathogens is a growing concern, and textiles with antimicrobial properties are becoming more desirable. Fungi or similar other insects are responsible for lethal infections and allergic reactions. Despite the production of antimicrobial textile products; three inherent problems remain:
- Demonstration of efficacy,
- Claiming efficacy in a manner that does not invite legal challenge and,
- Maintaining efficacy over the lifetime of the textile and through generations of microbial challenges.
These problems might be restated as how to test and present the results of the testing, how to make the effect durable, and how to avoid microbial resistance to the treatment. These problems combine so that in spite of the obvious commercial and advertising potential, effective, durable, inexpensive, and safe biocidal textiles are not widely available in the market. It is of note that one promising compound which has been appearing commercially in a variety of products has just encountered its first resistant organism
Antimicrobial Technologies in Textiles:
Whether the performance or technical fabric is ultimately used outdoors, indoors, or on the body challenges such as microbial control, moisture management, odor control, elasticity, and even softness are prevalent. These challenges offer new opportunities to wisely seek technologies to address those needs whether you are looking for a single or combination of features.
This discussion will address the considerations important in choosing the right finishes for your customers performance needs, i.e. durability, ease of application, safety, and ultimate end-use performance requirements. Consumers needs drive the product value chain and features of value make the margin difference for marketplace success.
The inherent properties of the textile fibres provide room for the growth of micro-organisms. Besides, the structure of the substrates and the chemical processes may induce the growth of microbes. Humid and warm environment still aggravate the problem. Infestation by microbes cause cross infection by pathogens and development odour where the fabric is worn next to skin. In addition, the staining and loss of the performance properties of textile substrates are the results of microbial attack. Basically, with a view to protect the wearer and the textile substrate itself antimicrobial finish is applied to textile materials.
During World War II, when cotton fabrics were used extensively for tentage, tarpaulins and truck covers, these fabrics needed to be protected from rotting caused by microbial attack. This was particularly a problem in the South Pacific campaigns, where much of the fighting took place under jungle like conditions. During the early 1940 s, the US army Quartermaster Crops collected and compiled data on fungi, yeast and algae isolated from textiles in tropical and subtropical areas throughout the world. Cotton duck, webbing and other military fabrics were treated with mixtures of chlorinated waxes, copper and antimony salts that stiffened the fabrics and gave them a peculiar odour. At the time, potential polluting effects of the application of, these materials and toxicity-related issue were not a major consideration. After World War II, and as late as the mid-to-late 1950.s fungicides used on cotton fabrics were compounds such as 8-hydroxygiunoline salts, copper naphthenate, copper ammonium fluoride and chlorinated phenals.