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Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

June, 2002

What is CARC?

Q. I would like to know who actually makes CARC? I am not so much interested in the paint as I am in the actual coating if there exsists such a thing. I am doing some reseach for school and I can't find anywhere whether CARC is a chemical that is added to paints only or if you can use it by itself. I heard that it is usually green and can be used in lab testing. Any and all information you could give me regarding this topic would be very helpful.

A. CARC stands for Chemical Agent Resistant Coating. These are paints (coatings) that are intended to withstand the harsh chemicals that are used to wash down military equipment that has been exposed to a chemical warfare agent ,such as nerve gas. The coatings must withstand the corrosive nature of the decontaminating

chemicals (predominantly solvents). Apparently, the actual chemical warfare agents do not attack the coatings.

A CARC coating is usually an epoxy or polyurethane that is so resistant to decontaminating chemicals that if military equipment were to come into contact with a chemical warfare agent, the troops could take the equipment out of the battle field and wash it down with the strong solvents to remove the chemical agent. Coatings that are not resistant to the decontaminating

solvents will tend to soften and become a mess, thus putting the soldiers at risk of touching the chemical agent. Even a drop of a chemical agent that comes into contact with a soldier's skin can kill.

Nothing is added to epoxy and polyurethane coatings to make them resistant to the decontaminants. On the other hand, a paint manufacturer who wishes to sell a coating as a CARC coating must formulate it so that it will have sufficient resistance.

There are only a few laboratories in the country that can test the coatings to see if they are resistant to the strong decontaminating solvents, (not the chemical warfare agent itself.) One of these labs is at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Gounds.

While green is one of the most common camouflage colors used by the US military, color in and of itself is not at issue here. Epoxies and polyurethanes that are colored brown, white, black and other camouflage colors used by the military also must meet the CARC requirements.

Hope this helps.

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