Permethrin Factory-Treated Combat Uniforms

Monday December 13, 2010

What is it?

In July 2010, the Army began issuing factory-permethrin-treated, flame-resistant, combat uniforms to all deploying Soldiers. Permethrin is a safe, synthetic insect repellent that mimics natural compounds found in chrysanthemum flowers. It is widely used in the commercial market to treat scabies and lice, and commonly used to treat commercially-sold hiking and hunting gear manufactured by L.L. Bean, REI, and other similar companies. The factory treatment has been tested to ensure the insect protection is effective for the life of the uniform.

What has the Army done?

The Army Public Health Command has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency and the United State Department of Agriculture to study the effects of permethrin and have found it to be quite harmless when properly applied to clothing. Research confirms it is safe to use with both children and pregnant or nursing women. The low dosage used in the factory treatment is very unlikely to cause skin irritation. Independent studies conducted by the National Academy of Science-Committee on Toxicology, the Food and Drug Administration, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization all concluded that Soldiers wearing permethrin-treated clothing are unlikely to experience adverse health effects.

These factory-permethrin-treated, flame-resistant, combat uniforms are a form of body armor - protecting Soldiers from possible life-threatening illnesses such as Lyme disease, malaria, Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever, dengue, Leishmaniasis, and West Nile virus. The benefits of wearing a factory-permethrin-treated combat uniform far outweigh the minimal risks.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned?

The Army is incrementally incorporating this protection into other types of uniforms, to include the Army Aircrew Combat Uniform, the Improved Combat Vehicle Crewman's Coverall, the garrison combat uniform, and the Army Combat Shirt. The Army will continue to study and monitor the effects of permethrin on Soldiers and family members, and document the cases of insect-transmitted illness in theater.

Why is this important to the Army?

The Army is committed to fully protecting Soldiers, whether from a bullet or a bug. Permethrin-treated uniforms , a safe, effective, permanent form of protection, is another example of providing the best equipment for the best Soldiers. Along with using DEET on exposed skin, Soldiers can be nearly 100 percent protected from insect-transmitted illnesses

Resources:

Video

New protection against six-legged threats

Fact sheet

Technical Guide 36: Personal protective measures against insects and other arthropods of military significance

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