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Tuesday, 16 September 1958

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - I have been advised. to-day by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization that; later ' to-day, it will issue a detailed statement covering this matter. The problem of. cross-infection in hospitals has worried hospital authorities for- a considerable time, and it .has been felt that particles of cloth, fibre, or other material in the air could carry infection from one patient to another. The C.S.I.R.6. has conducted extensive research into this problem, and this has.. revealed, that only , a very small percentage, of the fibre present in the air in hospitals -.comes from woollen material. I think, that,-, in point of fact, it amounts to only- about 3 per cent.. Cotton material - principally cotton fibre - or other cellulose material comprises 96 per cent, of the fibre present in .-the air .of hospitals.

Mr Ward - Is this a " Dorothy-Dixer "?

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - No, not exactly. The honorable member for Barker indicated last week that- he was* inquiring into: this matter. The C.S.I.R.O. has been working on it for. some time. I suggest to the honorable, member for East Sydney that it is a matter of considerable importance, not only to hospital authorities, but also to the wool industry of - this country. As I have said, the research undertaken by the C.S.I.R.O. indicates,, first, that woollen fibre constitutes a. very small proportion indeed of the total fibre material in the air, and secondly, that woollen blankets, provided that they have been treated, by the shrink-proof process, can be laundered in such a way as to prevent any danger of bacterial infection being transmitted by them. So wool would appear to be just as- satisfactory a material' for 'hospital' blankets as are other materials!. Also it has the other virtues of- wool - warmth and- so forth - with, which we ali:, are familiar, :and which, I:suggest, make it very much more desirable It; can- at. least hold its own, from the stand-point of infection, if his , properly treated, and I think it ,has obvious advantages from the stand-point qf the comfort of the patient.

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