AgResearch and Campaign for Wool New Zealand (CFWNZ) are studying what effect the fabric used for soft furnishing have on the microbiome of a home.
The unique study is the first of its type and will assess the microbiome within commonly found materials such as wool and polyester.
Microbiome refers to a group of micro-organisms in a specific environment including bacteria, viruses, fungi and other single-celled organisms.
The research will involve the analysis of wool-filled and synthetic fibre-filled pillows, along with wool and synthetic carpet.
The hypothesis is that the stark compositional differences between wool and synthetics will give rise to a different microbiome.
It is the first time CFWNZ has collaborated with AgResearch on a project involving NZ strong wool.
“With the funding support from industry and government we are able to carry out novel research that may generate new knowledge around what a natural fibre like wool can offer,” AgResearch senior scientist Sonya Scott said.
“In this research we are able to explore what difference there may be between use of wool and synthetics when it comes to the billions of microorganisms that exist in our homes.
“Most of us don’t think about the normal microbiome in our homes and how this could be impacted by the use of natural or synthetic fibres.
“Most of us don’t think about the normal microbiome in our homes and how this could be impacted by the use of natural or synthetic fibres.”Sonya Scott
“We hypothesise that different types of fibre around the home will alter what microbes are present, but we do not know if this could have health implications, and the first step is to measure any differences,” Scott said.
CFWNZ chair Tom O’Sullivan says the study is an exciting step for NZ wool.
“CFWNZ is proud to support this research, both financially and through the supply of product from our partners.
“We are passionately committed to influencing conscientious consumers around the globe to buy NZ wool products.
“While we can’t predict what the research will find, this study and any that follow it, could provide valuable intelligence to support Campaign for Wool’s strategic objectives and benefit our NZ strong wool growers and their partners,” O’Sullivan said.
At its conclusion findings from the research will be made available to CFWNZ’s registered commercial partners, which currently include a range of both large and small manufacturers and retailers such as Bremworth, Godfrey Hirst, BigSave and Swazi NZ.