Campaign for Wool NZ partners with AgResearch in unique home microbiome study

July 6, 2022 Newsletter

What impact could the materials we use in interior furnishings and bedding have on the microbiome of our home?

Campaign for Wool NZ (CFWNZ) has partnered with Crown Research Institute AgResearch to learn more. The study – the first of its type – will assess the microbiome within commonly found materials in the home, such as wool and polyester.

‘Microbiome’ refers to a group of microorganisms in a specific environment, which can include bacteria, viruses, fungi and other single-celled organisms. The hypothesis for the research, which will involve the analysis of wool-filled and synthetic fibre-filled pillows, along with wool and synthetic carpet, is that the stark compositional differences between wool and synthetics will give rise to a different microbiome.

It’s the first time CFWNZ have collaborated with AgResearch on a project involving New Zealand 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,” says AgResearch Senior Scientist Dr Sonya Scott. “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. We hypothesise that different types of fibre around the home will alter what microbes are present. We do not know if this could have health implications, and the first step is to measure any differences.

Tom O’Sullivan, CFWNZ Chair, says the study is an exciting step for New Zealand wool. “CFWNZ is proud to support this research, both financially and through the supply of product from our partners,” says Tom. “We are passionately committed to influencing conscientious consumers around the globe to buy New Zealand 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 New Zealand strong wool growers and their partners.”

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.

AgResearch is a Crown Research Institute in New Zealand, with responsibility for delivering innovative science and research outcomes specifically for the agricultural sector.

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