New cotton fiber swab may protect against bioagents

Fibertect–CS, a new cotton fiber product manufactured in Texas, has recently stirred interest in the United States and the Middle East for its potential use in protecting against harmful chemical and biological agents that could be deployed by terrorist groups.

The cotton swab was evaluated several years ago by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory at the request of a blue-ribbon congressional panel that was interested in investigating the capabilities of different materials in resisting the effects of chemical weapons. In those tests, Fibertect beat out 29 other materials, according to

Bahrain recently asked Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar, who works for Texas Tech’s Institute of Environmental and Human Health and helped develop Fibertect, for a sample of the material. It is manufactured in Waco by Hobbs Bonded Fibers, a family-owned company.

Larry Hobbs is the company’s vice-president for manufacturing. Hobbs confirmed that Bahrain was interested in Fibertect’s properties, adding that he had also been contacted directly by Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

The Fibertect cotton swab is an activated carbon core sandwiched between layers of non-woven cotton, reports. The sandwiching layers on either side of the carbon are replaceable, depending on the products end use. The outer layer can also be fire-retardant.

Ramkumar and his team of scientists Fibertect to be used as a chemical wipe by the military. It is ideal for use in a chemical warfare situation where soldiers might need to safeguard their equipment and protect themselves, reports.

One of the potential uses of the material is as a protective face mask. Hobbs Bonded Fibers has been working on a disposable, surgical style mask that could be a good alternative to the type of respirators that were used in cleaning up the oil spill along the Gulf Coast. Those respirators weighed ten pounds and were uncomfortable in the high temperatures and humidity.