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Quality Fabric Of The Month

Keeping The Insects At Bay

Burlington Labs' No Fly Zone™ permethrin-based insect-repellent treatment is permanently bonded onto fabrics prior to garment manufacturing, providing consistently applied, durable protection from mosquitoes and other disease-bearing, biting insects.

Janet Bealer Rodie, Associate Editor

I nsect-repellent textiles are considered by public health agencies worldwide to be an increasingly important component in the fight to reduce the incidence of insect-borne infectious diseases such as malaria, West Nile virus, encephalitis, dengue fever, Lyme Disease and numerous others. Insect-borne diseases afflict hundreds of millions of people each year and represent a significant portion of overall infectious diseases, which globally rank second among all causes of death. Vaccines and therapeutic drugs have yet to be developed to treat many of these diseases, so preventive measures must be taken to control these insects and avoid contact with them.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of products containing permethrin — a man-made insecticide/repellent whose chemistry is based on pyrethrum, a long-recognized natural insecticidal substance derived from chrysanthemum flowers — to treat clothing, netting and camping gear and provide protection from mosquitoes, ticks, sand flies, fleas and other such disease-bearing insects, as well as possibly less virulent but still obnoxious pests such as chiggers, gnats, ants, flies and other insects. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered permethrin for textile as well as agricultural, pharmaceutical or other pest-control applications, and permethrin-treated clothing is deemed safe for wearing by children and pregnant or lactating women.

  qfomjacket
Army combat uniforms made with No Fly Zone™-treated fabric will protect soldiers in the field from disease-bearing insects and other pests including mosquitoes, sand flies, ticks and others.

While there are apparel products in the marketplace that apply permethrin-based insect repellency in final garment form, Greensboro, N.C.-based Burlington Labs has developed a permethrin-based technology for application during the fabric-manufacturing process. No Fly Zone™ insect repellent is a proprietary nanotechnology-based resin binding system whereby, according to the company, permethrin is crosslinked onto fabrics in an efficient and safe process that ensures consistent application and provides a high degree of durability over 25 and more home washings — including as much as 83- to 87-percent retention on certain fabrics after 50 washings. The finish can be applied to a range of fabrics including polyester, nylon, cotton and wool; as well as fabrics containing such highly technical fibers as Nomex®.

“We’re able to bind permethrin to the fabric in a consistent, uniform application for unprecedented durability, and we have exclusive rights to any advancements in the technology,” said William J. DiIanni, director of research and development, Burlington Labs, the research and development division of International Textile Group’s Burlington WorldWide apparel fabrics business unit. “We’re continuing to optimize and evolve the technology,” he added, noting that applying the technology during fabric-manufacturing also is very affordable when compared to the cost of applying such a finish to a garment. He also said the technology can be combined with other Burlington finishing technologies, mentioning in particular the MCS® Blocker moisture-control system with ultraviolet protection, and DurepelPlus™ water- and stain-repellent finish.

Burlington has been working closely with the US military in developing and testing its insect-repellent technology. In military laboratory testing conducted last summer, the company reports army combat uniforms made with No Fly Zone fabrics provided on average between 92.2- and 97.7-percent protection from mosquito bites. In a field test in Alaska, subjects wearing permethrin-treated uniforms and 35-percent DEET repellent on exposed parts of the body received an average of one bite per hour over an eight-hour period compared with nearly 1,200 bites per hour on unprotected subjects.

“This is one of the most technical products we’ve put out, not only in terms of technical understanding, but also in terms of the registration and approval process requirements,” DiIanni said. No Fly Zone’s EPA registration stipulates the application parameters as well as the amount of permethrin allowed on the fabric, and garments made with No Fly Zone-treated fabric must display a hangtag provided by Burlington Labs that details the EPA registration information. ITG’s fabric manufacturing and finishing sites have received plant registration from the EPA, and the company has the capability to produce treated fabrics not only in the United States, but also in its facilities in Asia. DiIanni pointed out that the EPA has determined that the occupational safety of garment workers who handle permethrin-treated fabrics and of military personnel who wear treated clothing is not an issue, as risks from exposure are far lower than any level that would cause concern.

When asked about effluent from the manufacturing process returning to the environment and possibly endangering aquatic life downstream, DiIanni said: “We do not discharge any effluent. We’r e looking at recycling or recapturing to get maximum yield.”

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Burlington launched No Fly Zone commercially earlier this year at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City. Nelson Bebo, Burlington Labs’ vice president of sales, said the technology garnered quite a bit of attention from potential commercial customers. “There’s a significant amount of interest and wear-testing going on by major outdoor apparel brands,” he said. “We’re focusing on the better brands first and anticipate a limited release at retail in the United States in spring 2009, with more to follow in spring 2010.”


For more information about No Fly Zone™, contact Nelson Bebo (212) 621-4046, nelson.bebo@burlington.com.