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Research Highlights

Research Highlights /

Research Highlights

Agricultural Science Professor Invents Way to Kill Dust Mites Using Natural Plant Extract

Dust mites, which can live in the home in clothes, sofas, carpets, and blankets, are notoriously difficult to get rid of, as mere laundering is often insufficient to remove them. Exposure to dust mite allergens is one of the causes of asthma.

Professor AHN Young Joon of the College of Agricultural Science is the first to have discovered an organic method, using plant extracts, of removing dust mites from the home. On January 11, Professor Ahn announced the invention of CB-FN - a natural substance extracted from several plants including cinnamon and chrysanthemum - which is found to kill house dust mites.

There are chemical pesticides which are effective against dust mites, but these are harmful to the human body and are ineffective in preventing allergies, as they do not successfully decompose the protein particles that are present in dust mites and in their excrement. Tannic acid can decompose these protein particles, but over time it leaves micropowder particles, which cause respiratory and skin problems. Usage of tannic acid is restricted in certain countries as it is harmful to children who have weaker immune systems.

CB-FN is both harmless to the human body and effective in exterminating the bugs, as it uses natural substances with plant-distilled oils as their main components. Professor Ahn proves that CB-FN also decomposes protein particles more effectively than tannic acid does. An experiment showed that CB-FN structurally decreased the harmful protein particles by 85%, while tannic acid decreased them by 40%.

Professor Ahn began his research to invent a natural substance that eradicates house dust mites in 2005. He examined over 200 plant components by referencing traditional texts such as Principles and Practice of Eastern Medicine and Compendium of Materia Medica, which record the usage of plants and medicinal herbs.

Taking note of the fact that cinnamon was traditionally used to treat asthma, Professor Ahn extracted some of the major components of cinnamon, such as aldehyde and alcohols, in inventing his a natural pesticide.

Currently, Professor Ahn is preparing to launch products that utilize CB-FN, such as sprays that can be used on clothing and blankets, and diffusers that can be attached to car air conditioners or placed inside closets. He further plans to invent natural substances to exterminate other bugs such as termites and mosquitoes, and make products for these uses as well.

Written by Hye Bin Lee, SNU English Editor,
Reviewed by Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations,