Heat against house dust mites - Innovative mattress lets allergy sufferers breathe easier
BOENNIGHEIM (IS/ri) Million Germans have anything but a good night’s sleep: they are allergic to house dust mites. While bed coverings, pillows and blankets can be washed with high temperatures in the washing machine, when it comes to mattresses, so far the only way to control dust mite populations and their allergenic excretions consisted of using tight-closing and hence not very breathable mattress covers or the use of chemical substances.
In conjunction with mattress manufacturers Fey & Co., a team of the Institut für Hygiene und Biotechnologie (Institute for Hygiene and Biotechnology) at the Hohenstein Institute in Boennigheim, lead by Prof. Dr. Dirk Hoefer, has now developed a novel mattress for allergy sufferers all the way to market readiness.
The key aspect of “Allergomed”-mattress is the creation of hygrothermal living conditions within the mattress, which ensure that mites do not even take up residence. These small arachnids, which depend on moisture from the ambient air for survival, are very sensitive to dry and warm environments. Testing by Hohenstein scientists has shown that heating the mattress to 55°C for one hour twice to thrice a week is sufficient to prevent the settling of mites. The extremely thin and elastic textile heating pads, which were supplied by Rolf Mayer Strickstoff-Fabrik in Balingen (roma) for the prototypes, are integrated into the mattress layers at defined distances. This ensures that the desired temperature can be maintained over the entire mattress cross-section.
With the application from a special power supply developed by Rist Transformatorenbau GmbH in Ostfildern operating in the low-voltage area of 24 Volt DC, without creating additional electromagnetic fields (electro smog). Also, the possibility of dangerous electric shocks can be excluded.
For Prof. Dr. Dirk Hoefer, manager of the Institute for Hygiene and Biotechnology at the Hohenstein Institute, the work of his team has paid off: "Using this trailblazing innovation, we are finally able to ensure that sufferers of house dust mite allergies can have a good night’s sleep. And we have achieved this without compromising sleeping comfort or having to revert to chemical substances which in turn create problems with people with heightened sensitivities. It would not have been possible without the excellent cooperation of our project partners.”
The department manager at Technical Textiles at roma, Jürgen Reichart, sees a great potential as regards cooperative relationships with research institutes such as the Hohenstein Institute: "Projects such as these guarantee that innovative medium-sized companies can continue to exist in the market. Working together, we were able to implement a great product with excellent market opportunities within a relatively short time period.”
The development cooperation involving the mite-free mattress for allergy sufferers was promoted by the Federal Ministry for Economy and Technology and its project arm AiF (Arbeitsgemeinschaft industrieller Forschungsvereinigungen „Otto von Guericke“ e.V.) as part of the Pro Inno II programme. This programme enables small and medium-sized companies to access the know-how of market-oriented research institutions, and allows companies to implement product innovations which often would not be possible due to the lack of in-house research and development departments as well as financial resources.
Mite-free zones – the new mattress for allergy sufferers
The main trigger for house dust mite allergies is mite faeces, which forms a fine dust when dried, and is directly breathed in when dispersed. Mites primarily live on excreted dander, large amounts of which can be found on textile materials, hence on clothing, carpets, towels and also mattresses.
This project has developed a mattress which, through the use of heatable knitted material, creates a permanently anti-mite climate within the mattress, and thus virtually eliminates house dust mites.
A climate that is non-conducive to mites can be reached if the hygrothermal set point of 55°C temperature and less than 40% humidity can be reached at all areas of the mattress. According to the current state of knowledge, all that is required in this regard is to activate the flexible textile heating pads, which are integrated into the mattress, for approximately one hour once to twice a week. These heating pads are designed in such a way that they are able to quickly generate high temperatures within the low-voltage area of 24 Volt, without creating additional electromagnetic fields (electro smog). Also, the possibility of dangerous electric shocks can be excluded. Since the heating temperature can be controlled, this mattress also presents an alternative to conventional heating blankets during the winter season, and is therefore likely also of interest to people without allergies.
The “Allergomed”-mattress for allergy sufferers is expected to be distributed by Fey & Co. through specialist retailers starting in the fall of 2010. The recommended sale price will probably be around EUR 1,750 for standard mattress sizes.