Antimicrobial Textile Treatments - A Literature Review of Risks, Benefits and Applications
Technical paper Dec 2013-Apr 2014
ARMY NATICK SOLDIER RESEARCH DEVELOPMENT AND ENGINEERING CENTER MA
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This paper summarizes a literature search and review of peer reviewed sources conducted in 2014 by the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center NSRDEC to determine the possible risks negative health effects of antimicrobial treatments in textiles. These treatments are being used on many textile items, including t-shirts, socks, and sleeping bag liners, and antimicrobial yarns are being used in the Army s Alternate Physical Fitness Uniform APFU and Protective Undergarment PUG. Questions addressed during this review include 1 Does exposure to the antimicrobial treatments result in toxicity or skin irritation issues, 2 Does prolonged exposure to antimicrobial textiles change the skin bacteria population by eliminating beneficial bacteria, allowing outgrowth of pathogens, and 3 Will prolonged exposure result in the emergence of resistant bacteria The paper also discusses benefits and utilization of treatments, including antimicrobial technologies, textile materials, and applications. Little concern was expressed in the sources reviewed that the compounds used for treatments are unsafe, although some individuals may experience skin sensitivity or irritation. In general, there also appears to be little evidence to support a long-term change in skin bacteria population, outgrowth of pathogens, or the emergence of resistant bacteria. However, there have been very few studies on the effects of prolonged wear, and there is no consensus in literature about these issues. In particular, there is conflicting information regarding antimicrobials and the emergence of resistance. More studies are needed to resolve issues of non-consensus and areas of insufficient research and data, particularly prolonged wear studies.