Microsoft word - insect resist treatments of wool carpets
Insect-Resist Treatments 0f Wool Carpets
Larvae of some insects may eat wool and other animal fibres (mohair, cashmere etc) and they may cause damage to stored textiles and carpets. These insects (Clothes Moth, House Moth, and Carpet Beetle) are unique in their ability to live on wool, but are not restricted to this diet. They may feed on a wide variety of dry materials with a high protein content including silk, leather, feathers and cereals. Clean wool cannot meet all their dietary requirements and is usually supplemented with various organic materials, usually from soiling of the textile material.
Generally, the insects require dark, undisturbed places and for this reason, infestations in the home usually occur around skirting boards or under large items of furniture. This is most likely when wall-to-wall carpets are in place. Easily accessible areas of carpet are usually protected by regular traffic and normal carpet cleaning, preventing the establishment of sufficient breeding colonies to cause material damage to these areas.
To prevent insect pest damage to the wool carpets and rugs, wool pile yarns are given a durable insect-resist treatment during manufacture.
If wall-to-wall wool carpets are not treated, infestations of wool-eating insects in the home are possible and this can lead to damage to carpets, wool garments (e.g. sweaters, coats, suits etc), wool upholstery, blankets, etc.
Insect-resist treated wool is harmless to humans and pets because only small amounts of the agents, with low mammalian toxicity, are applied by manufacturing processes. This not only enables complete penetration of the agent into the wool fibres but also ensures that the treatment is resistant to carpet cleaning - both vacuuming and wet cleaning.
New methods of industrial insect-resist treatment, that discharge little or no agent into the environment, are being introduced into the carpet industry.
Most wool carpet and rug manufacturers ensure that the correct amount of agent is applied – too much is unnecessary and wasteful, too little would not protect the carpet adequately.
Insect-Resist Treated Wool and Human Health
Most 100% wool and wool-rich carpets are treated with insect resist agents. The most widely used agent being permethrin, a synthetic pyrethroid.
Pyrethroids are chemically similar to pyrethrum, an insecticide occurring naturally in a number of chrysanthemum varieties.
Permethrin is widely used in agriculture, for the domestic control of insects and as a wood preservative. Public health uses include insect control in aircraft, treatment of mosquito nets, and human lice control.
The most authoritative publication on the subject of the effects of permethrin on human health is the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Environmental Health Criteria 94
on permethrin, published in 1990. The following statements are taken directly from the WHO report:
no poisoning cases (involving permethrin) have been reported
there are no indications that permethrin has an adverse effect on human beings when used
the exposure of the general population to permethrin is expected to be low and is not likely
to present a hazard provided it is used as recommended
the likelihood of permethrin causing malignant diseases such as cancer (“oncogenic effects”
in human beings is extremely low or non-existent.
When used in the manufacture of wool carpets, three factors ensure that the treated carpet is safe. These are:
the very low toxicity of permethrin to humans and domestic animals the
penetration of the chemical into the wool fibre during manufacture the low
Even wool-eating insects cannot be harmed by mere contact with the treated fibre - they must eat and digest it before the agent takes effect.
dust in houses, where wool carpets and other wool materials (blankets, garments) are used,
will contain some small wool fibre fragments.
wool dust is classified as being not inherently toxic or hazardous.
since permethrin is basically harmless to humans, wool dust containing permethrin is also
harmless. Insect-resist treated wool carpets which comply with Wools of New Zealand standards do not constitute a risk to human health.
Larvae of some insects may eat wool and other animal fibres and to prevent damage to wool carpets and rugs, wool pile yarns are given a durable insect-resist treatment during manufacture. The possible impact on human health is discussed.
Published by The WoolSafe Academy, 49 Boroughgate, Otley, LS21 1AG, UK
Copyright ® 2012 The WoolSafe Organisation
This publication is issued subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold,
hired out, or otherwise circulated without the author's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than
that in which it is published, and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the
subsequent owner. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, scanning, recording, or any information retrieval system without
the prior permission in writing from the WoolSafe Organisation.
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