Parasitology Research

, Volume 115, Issue 4, pp 1573–1582 | Cite as

Bioactivity and laundering resistance of five commercially available, factory-treated permethrin-impregnated fabrics for the prevention of mosquito-borne diseases: the need for a standardized testing and licensing procedure

  • Michael K. Faulde
  • Frederic Pages
  • Waltraud Uedelhoven
Original Paper


Personal protective measures against hematophagous vectors constitute the first line of defense against arthropod-borne diseases. In this regard, a major advance has been the development of residual insecticides that can be impregnated into clothing. Currently, however, information on specific treatment procedures, initial insecticide concentrations, arthropod toxicity, residual activity, and laundering resistance is either fragmentary or non-existent, and no World Health Organization Pesticides Evaluation Scheme or other guidelines exist for the standardized testing and licensing of insecticide-treated clothing. The aim of this study was to analyze the insecticide content, contact toxicity, laundering resistance, and residual activity of five commercially available and commonly used permethrin-treated fabrics—Insect Shield, ExOfficio, Sol’s Monarch T-shirts, battle dress uniforms (BDUs), and Labonal socks—against vector-competent Aedes aegypti, Anopheles stephensi, and Culex pipiens mosquitoes under laboratory conditions. Prior to laundering, permethrin concentrations ranged from 4300 to 870 mg/m2 whereas, after 100 defined machine launderings, the remaining permethrin content fell to between 1800 and 20 mg/m2, a percentage permethrin loss of 58.1 to 98.5 %. The highest 99 % knockdown (KD99) efficacy of permethrin was detected in Ae. aegypti, followed by An. stephensi and Cx. pipiens demonstrating that Ae. aegypti is the most sensitive species and Cx. pipiens the least sensitive. After 100 launderings, the remaining biocidal efficacy differed markedly among the five brands, with KD99 times varying from 38.8 ± 2.9 to >360 min for Ae. aegypti, from 44 ± 3.5 to >360 min for An. stephensi, and from 98 ± 10.6 to >360 min for Cx. pipiens. Overall, the ranking of the residual biocidal efficacies within the five brands tested was as follows: BDU ≈ Labonal > Sol’s Monarch > ExOfficio > Insect Shield. When applying German Armed Forces licensing conditions, none of the four products available in the civilian market would completely meet all the necessary efficacy and safety requirements fulfilled by BDUs. Therefore, we strongly recommend standardized testing and licensing procedures for insecticide-treated clothing, with defined cutoff values for initial maximum and post-laundering minimum concentrations of permethrin as well as figures for permethrin migration rates, arthropod toxicity, homogeneity on fabrics, residual activity, and laundering resistance.


Permethrin-impregnated clothing Pyrethroids Residual activity Laundering resistance Personal protection Arthropod-bite prevention Standardization procedure 



The authors thank Ms. Anke Crecelius and Mr. Bernd Bocklet for laboratory support. Dr. Richard G. Robbins, Armed Forces Pest Management Board, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment, Washington, DC, helpfully reviewed and commented on an earlier version of our manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael K. Faulde
    • 1
    • 2
  • Frederic Pages
    • 3
  • Waltraud Uedelhoven
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Medical Entomology/ZoologyCentral Institute of the Bundeswehr Medical ServiceKoblenzGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and ParasitologyUniversity Clinics BonnBonnGermany
  3. 3.Regional Office of the French Institute for Public Health Surveillance (Cire OI, Institut de Veille Sanitaire)Saint-DenisFrance
  4. 4.Bundeswehr Research Institute for Materials, Explosives, Fuels, and LubricantsErdingGermany

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