|By David Vergun & J.D. Leipold, Army News Service
WASHINGTON. D.C. (Army News Service) — Factory-treated, insect-repelling
Army Combat Uniforms (ACU) that until now were issued only to Soldiers
deploying to Iraq, Afghanistan, and some other overseas locations, now
will be available to all Soldiers.
Beginning this month, Soldiers in
the United States can purchase new Army Combat Uniforms treated
with insect repellent that will help fight insect-borne
illnesses such as Lyme disease and West Nile Virus, which are
transmitted by ticks.
The new uniform, called the “ACU-P,” uses the chemical permethrin to
ward off insects such as ticks, mosquitoes, fleas and chiggers.
Permethrin has been extensively tested and found to be safe by the
Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) Department of Agriculture, and
Food and Drug Administration, said Col. Pearline McKenzie-Garner, an
occupational medicine physician in the Office of the Surgeon General.
“The Army’s battlefield experience shows that the EPA-approved
permethrin fabric treatment ... protects the Soldier from diseases
transmitted by a variety of pests, including fleas, ticks and
mosquitoes,” said Lt. Col. Eugene Wallace, product manager for Program
Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, clothing and individual equipment. “It
is also proven safe to wear. This is not just the Army saying this. The
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and the World Health
Organization both advocate the use of permethrin-treated clothing for
people who may be exposed to insect-borne diseases.”
A view of a Soldier wearing the
new Army Combat Uniform that is treated with insect repellent.
The uniforms are available for purchase by authorized patrons at
the Fort McCoy Exchange Military Clothing, building 1538.
(U.S. Army photo )
Wallace said that 25,000 Soldiers were surveyed about the uniform’s
effectiveness at repelling insects and 85 percent of those surveyed said
it works. The treatment helps stave off insect-borne illnesses such as
Lyme disease and West Nile Virus.
Permethrin has been used by the Army for decades in a liquid or spray
and also in a version that could be applied to a combat uniform.
According to Col. Shawn Lucas, a program manager with PEO Soldier,
the problem with the liquid or spray was that Soldiers sometimes either
forgot to apply it or they applied it in excessive amounts, which in a
few cases caused rashes. With the factory-treated ACU, the permethrin is
applied consistently, and Soldiers no longer need to remember to apply a
bug repellent, Lucas said.
Soldiers won’t have a choice in going permethrin-free the next time they
buy new ACUs — all new uniforms will be treated with permethrin. For
Soldiers with a medical reason to not have permethrin-treated uniforms,
such as pregnancy, there is a special-order option to get ACUs without
McKenzie-Garner added the ACU maternity uniform will remain permethrin-free.
ACU-Ps are good for about 50 launderings — the same as regular ACUs.
The uniforms can be washed with normal laundry detergent, but should be
Lucas said the addition of permethrin to the uniform increases the cost
by about eight dollars, but Soldiers will not have to bear that
additional expense because the uniform allowance has been increased to
incorporate those production costs.
For more information on permethrin studies, visit the CDC’s website,
http://www.cdc.gov/ and keyword
“permethrin” in the search engine at the top of the homepage.