Permethrin-Treated Army Combat Uniforms

Wednesday October 10, 2012

What is it?

In order to better protect Soldiers from the risk and annoyance of biting insects, the Army will begin fielding Army Combat Uniforms (ACUs) that have been factory treated with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -approved insect repellent /insecticide permethrin.

Permethrin has been used to treat uniforms since 1991, but this new process will provide better protection for Soldiers. Factory treatment with permethrin has been available in civilian clothes for some time, and was adopted by the Marine Corps in 2007. And it has been used in the Iraq and Afghanistan operations since 2010.

What has the Army done?

The decision to begin factory treatment of ACUs comes after extensive review to ensure safety and effectiveness. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) have confirmed and advocated the use of permethrin-treated clothing to protect people who may be exposed to insect-borne diseases. Soldiers should note the EPA special washing and handling instructions for these uniforms, which include separate laundering from civilian clothes, and not dry cleaning the new ACUs, as this removes the permethrin.

What does the Army have planned?

The Army began fielding permethrin impregnated Fire Resistant ACUs (FRACU-Ps) for Soldiers deploying to combat areas, Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom during fiscal year 2010. Now the Army wants to bring this powerful protection from insects and other biting arthropods such as ticks to all Soldiers wherever they are stationed worldwide. The Army expects to begin issuing the ACU-Ps to new Soldiers starting in October 2012.

Why is this important to the Army?

Biting insects and other biting arthropods such as ticks are more than just a nuisance - they are vectors for over 60 diseases. Lyme disease, West Nile virus, and malaria are just a few of the dangerous and potentially deadly diseases spread by arthropods. Though the Army has already been using permethrin to treat uniforms for nearly 20 years, factory treating allows for safer and more effective protection from insects and other arthropods. This treatment method ensures effective protection from insects for up to fifty washes, and is much cleaner, faster and safer than the old method of spray kits.

Resources:

Army.mil: U.S. Army Symbols and Insignia - Combat Uniform
Army.mil: Health News
Project Manager Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment
Centers for Disease Control
Environmental Protection Agency: Permethrin
Related article: Insect-repelling ACUs now available to all Soldiers

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