WASHINGTON, D.C. (Army News Service, Sept. 4, 2013) -- Whether in rugged mountainous terrain, low valleys, deserts, wetlands, wooded areas, or open fields, Soldiers spend a considerable amount of time outdoors. The Army wants them to know just how their uniforms are protecting them from insect-borne diseases.
To accomplish that, the Army's Public Health Command recently launched a website about Army Combat Uniforms, or ACUs, that have been factory-treated with permethrin.
The ACUs treated with permethrin -- an insect repellent and insecticide -- replaced the non-permethrin ACUs in Army Military Clothing Stores in October 2012. In February 2013, ACUs treated with permethrin replaced the non-permethrin ACUs in the Army clothing bag issued to new Soldiers.
The uniforms are a safe and highly effective way to protect Soldiers from insect-borne diseases, some of which can be deadly, said Margaret Tippy, a spokesperson with the Army Medical Command and Office of the Surgeon General.
Protection against disease-carrying insects and nuisance insects is critical to force health protection and readiness, Tippy said.
"We really encourage all Soldiers to take the time to go to the website if they have any questions about the wear of the permethrin factory-treated Army Combat Uniform," Tippy said.
Permethrin has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Tippy said. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration has approved it as a treatment for head lice and scabies.
The substance repels many species of crawling and flying insects, including mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers and flies. Mosquitoes will often die from exposure to the permethrin treatment.
There are no known adverse health risks associated with wearing the permethrin-treated ACUs, or for children or others who come in contact with a Soldier in the uniform, Tippy said.
Soldiers who are pregnant or nursing, or those trying to become pregnant, are authorized to wear non-permethrin-treated uniforms. Additionally, the maternity ACU is not treated with permethrin.
The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing permethrin-treated clothing for disease prevention.
The Army has used permethrin for more than 20 years to treat uniforms, and has over that time compiled an excellent safety record with Soldiers, Tippy said.
According to the website, the permethrin treatment is expected to last the lifetime of the uniform -- which is about 50 launderings. The permethrin-treated ACUs can be put in the dryer or pressed without affecting the repellency. The uniforms should not be dry-cleaned.
Soldiers can learn more about the permethrin-treated ACU at the Army's website at http://phc.amedd.army.mil/topics/envirohealth/epm/Pages/PermethrinFactory-TreatedArmyCombatUniforms(ACUPermethrin).aspx