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Realistic test for mattress and pillow encasings may help allergy sufferers

Special encasings are intended to help combat the problem of an allergy to dust mites affecting one person in ten in Germany.

6th October 2014

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Boennigheim

Medical/Hygiene, Protective, Interiors

The Hohenstein Institute now offers the allergen-resistance testing of mattress and bed covers using real dust mite excrement as an accredited service.

In the test, all components of the encasing, that is to say the textile surface, the edge seams and the zip fastener, are covered with dust mite excrement and the movements of someone sleeping on it for eight hours are simulated.

Special encasings can be used to ensure that sufferers from dust mite allergies enjoy a comfortable night's sleep. © Warren Goldswain/Shutterstock

The volume of allergens from the dust mite excrement that passes through the textile, seams or zip of the encasing is measured. This is said to allow exact information to be obtained for the first time about whether the critical level of two micrograms of allergen – what is called the sensitisation threshold – is exceeded during the night, thereby posing a risk for allergy-sufferers.

Allergenic effect

In Germany, one person in ten suffers from an allergy to dust mites. It is the excrement from the dust mites that has an allergenic effect on people. It is common for the people affected to experience a blocked nose or itching first thing in the morning, as dust mites particularly like living in mattresses and beds.

Special covers for mattresses and beds known as encasings are intended to help combat the problem. They would act as barrier textiles, preventing any contact between the dust mite excrement and the person's respiratory passageways.

Image of a dust mite. Their excrement can cause allergies. © Hohenstein Institute

Manufacturers face the challenge of designing the covers technically in such a way that they remain proof against dust mite excrement even as people move about in their sleep. Scientific studies show that this kind of encasing can reduce the number of allergens. However, it is essential that the product is of a high quality.

Allergen-barrier encasings

Testing encasings with real dust mite excrement is setting new standards and attracting interest from around the world, the Institute reports.

 Jeffrey D. Miller M.D., President of the encasing manufacturer Mission: Allergy Inc. (USA) and member of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology, said: “We were happy to have our allergen-barrier encasings studied by the Hohenstein Institute. The studies performed on our allergen-barrier encasings by the Hohenstein Institute confirmed the impermeability of the encasing fabric and seams to the dust mite allergen.”

Aid to decision making

The Hohenstein scientists in the department of Hygiene, Environment & Medicine endorse materials that have been tested for allergen-resistance with the House dust and mite barrier quality label. The label can be awarded to encasings which have been proven to keep the dust mite allergen Der P1 away from a sleeping person.

This is said to provide allergy-sufferers with a reliable help when they are selecting a medically-tested mattress or bed cover. Businesses in the hospitality industry, such as technically advanced hotels could also benefit from this testing.

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