Mafatlal Industries is among the three industries that have been awarded Transfer of Technology (ToT) by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for manufacturing of anti-microbial bedsheets and anti-bed bug sheets for military and private usage.

The other two companies are Merite Exports and Sunil Industries. The DRDO’s lab, Defence Research Laboratory (DERL) which is based in Tezpur, Assam, did in-house R&D to come up with these two specialised bedsheets to meet the requirements from the Army and paramilitary forces.

Market reports, however, stated that anti-microbial bedsheets are being manufactured in the country and are exported as well. Such medical linen is available on online shopping platforms.

DRDO Chief Samir V Kamat visited Defence Research Laboratory at Tezpur on Thursday and handed over the licensing agreements for the Transfer of Technology of anti-microbial bedsheets and anti-bed bug bed sheets to the representatives of the three industries. “This visit underscores the vital role of DRL-DRDO Tezpur in advancing defence technologies and its unwavering commitment to supporting the nation’s armed forces,” said a Defence PRO in Guwahati.

These two products are an outcome of the demand from the services and central armed police force to keep their personnel safe and fit.

Prone to infection

On the need for anti-microbial bedsheets, DRDO said Army barracks are prone to microbial infection due to various reasons including situational and environmental conditions. These find application in hospitals and railways as well.

The bedsheet, a mix in equal proportion of polyester and cotton, has a shelf-life of two years or 20 washes whichever is earlier, as per the DRDO. The bedsheet provides 99 per cent reduction in microbial count even after 20 washes, aided by the chemical content of “Triclosan and CTAB” to keep infection away, said the DRDO.

The Army barracks are also prone to bed bug (Cimex lectularius) infection. Though the material in this bedsheet is polyester and cotton, the chemical used is different. The effectiveness against bed bugs, which are small, flat insects that pose public health risk due to their parasitic nature and blood craving, is 100 per cent without any wash but it still is 80 per cent after 20 washes, said DRDO officials.

According to research carried out by the DRDO, bed bugs, in particular, are resistant to single pyrethroids. It is unknown whether the multiple pyrethroid-impregnated liners are effective and there is limited evidence on insecticides’ effectiveness to repel bed bugs.

Bed bug management strategies can include utilising anti-bed bug bed sheets impregnated with various pyrethroids, particularly in defence, railway, and hotel industry, the DRDO explained. Bed bugs were studied by the DRDO and the finding was that they become inebriated after continuous contact to anti-bed bug bedsheets, and die 100 per cent after 96 hours up to 20 washes.

Superbugs pose high threat especially in hospitals, with 40 per cent patients getting infected in intensive care units (ICUs) , another study reported last year stated.

The DRL’s new R&D direction include soldier support for jungle warfare, signature mitigation, entomological biothreat prediction and mitigation, the PRO elaborated. The lab’s expertise lies in areas such as vector control, water quality enhancement, pharmaceutical technology and bio-waste management.