To: Head of Fire Departments
From: Stephen D. Coan, State Fire Marshal
Date: February 22, 2000
Re: Health Hazard from Surplus Military Equipment

I have recently received an advisory regarding surplus military equipment that may have been painted with Chemical Agent Resistant Coating (CARC). Any surplus military equipment from the Persian Gulf era may have been painted with CARC.

This coating contains several chemicals including, but not limited to, toluene, benzene, crystalline silica, ketone and isocyanates. Crystalline Silica is, for example, listed as a carcinogen. These chemicals pose a health risk when airborne from cutting, sanding, grinding, welding or heat application. Effects of exposure may include headache, nausea, dizziness and disorientation. A risk of exposure is present through inhalation, ingestion and skin contact.

Target organs of these harmful chemicals include the respiratory tract, kidneys, and in severe cases brain cells and nervous tissue. Any personnel performing cutting, sanding, welding or heating on painted surfaces containing CARC must wear respiratory protection including High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) purifying or powered air-purifying respirators.

These products may be contained in paints with various pigment colors and neither color nor texture can be used as a determinant of its presence. To determine the presence of CARC:

1. On vehicles and trailers the letters CARC are stenciled near a data plate
2. Information may be contained on shipping papers or transfer documents
3. Ask the Defense Marketing and Re-Utilization Office where the equipment is obtained.

According to the May 1997 issue of "PS Magazine," an Army maintenance publication, the presence of CARC may be determined by performing the following test;

Wet a cloth with acetone and rub hard on a painted surface for about ten seconds. Wet another cloth with acetone and rub again. If no paint comes off with the second rubbing, CARC is present.