(WWBT) - Some U.S. athletes in Rio are wearing specially treated clothing that helps protect them from the Zika virus. A new company just launched a line of athletic wear that it says keeps mosquitoes away.
The company is called Nobitech, short for No Bite Technology. Its athletic shirts, pants, and jackets are treated with an insecticide called permethrin, which repels mosquitoes.
Nobitech says it also treated some clothing, such as jackets, hoodies, and robes, that some U.S. athletes on the water polo, swim, and triathlon teams are wearing in Rio.
Nobitech's Nathan Kauffman says the fabric is treated through what they call Skintex MRIII Technology.
"The fibers of the apparel are impregnated with this technology. It's a synthetic insecticide, which was built right into the fibers themselves," Kauffman explained.
The Environmental Protection Agency's website says permethrin not only works to repel many species of biting, flying insects. It also "is unlikely to pose any significant immediate or long-term hazard to people wearing the clothing."
"It's absolutely safe and meets all the EPA regulations," Kauffman says.
The military has used permethrin in clothing for soldiers since 1990, and some other companies have made clothes with permethrin, too.
Wearing a treated shirt leaves the skin on your hands or face uncovered. The EPA says wearers should still treat exposed skin with repellent. We asked Kauffman if wearers should follow that advice.
"We wouldn't discourage that. We don't want to make any claims about how far out it extends, but what the fabric does is it keeps them away from you in proximity," he answered.
Kauffman also says consumers can wash the apparel over and over again.
"It's actually effective beyond 75 washes. That's quite a length of time that the fabric is active," he explained.
The cost for Nobitech's clothes are comparable to other athletic wear on the market. Kauffman says they're working to get the line into stores. In the meantime, he says it can be purchased through the Nobitech website.
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