Textiles & National Security
Textile materials and technologies play an important role in homeland security. Protective clothing is essential for the safety and performance of first responders, firefighters, healthcare personnel, and others who work to protect and rescue people and infrastructure from catastrophic events, biological and chemical hazards, and acts of terrorism. However, currently available protective gear is often bulky and heavy and does not adequately protect wearers from toxic chemicals and biological hazards, thus endangering the lives of those workers and jeopardizing the success of disaster response efforts. Textiles that address fire safety issues and provide barriers against biological and chemical threats are also needed for automobile interiors, furniture, bedding, and bandages. Rigorous research and testing is needed to determine the best ways to treat textile surfaces so that they repel or deactivate microbes, fungi, and chemicals and do not accelerate fires. There is also demand for textiles that can be created without using chemical solvents or resins that may be toxic to humans and the environment or petroleumbased materials that are economically and environmentally unsustainable. To make improved protective textiles widely available, reasonably priced, and sustainable, scientists must explore textiles that can be made from bio-based materials and processes as well as textiles that can be made uniquely in the U.S.
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