In an extension of a study into exposure to paints containing chromium, at the request of the Ministry of Defence, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) is investigating the possible effects on the health of current and former members of the Ministry of Defence after using the paint product Chemical Agent Resistant Coating (CARC). CARC is a strong and almost impermeable paint product (a top coat) that protects vehicles from chemical warfare agents. In addition, it protects vehicles from decontamination agents that are used to remove residual chemical warfare agents.
This study identified the substances that are present in CARC, and identified which of these substances may have formed the biggest risk to health after exposure to CARC. In order to do this, the ingredients were traced and on the basis of the classification on harmful effects and the concentration of these substances in the paint, the order in which the ingredients should be studied was determined. The highest priority was given to the polymer of hexamethylene diiscocyanate (HDI), as well as to HDI itself. It is known that these substances can cause allergies, even at low concentrations. In second place came the aromatic hydrocarbon solvents (Naphtha, VM&P Naphtha and Aromatic 100). Amongst other things, these substances cause damage to the DNA and come in second place because their concentration in CARC is lower. Third were the cobalt compounds, which cause allergies (amongst other things), and are present in CARC at an even lower concentration.
Over the years, various brands and colours of CARC have been used. In this study. eight CARC products were traced, which were considered to be representative of the agents used between 1990 and 2002. It is possible that CARC was also used between 1987 and 1990, which would then have been a different type. If CARC was used between 1984 and 1987 (there are no indications for this), it cannot be excluded that it contained the carcinogenic substance chromium-6. In any case, chromium-6 was no longer used in CARC paints after 1987. After 2002, water-based CARC was used; this contained less solvent and more water, but also still HDI.
CARC was used at the so-called Pre-positioned Organizational Material Storage (POMS) sites. These five POMS sites were sites from the Dutch Ministry of Defence, where members of the Ministry maintained American defence material on behalf of the United States Armed Forces between 1984 and 2006.