Denver, Colo. -- After an announcement prohibiting Marines from wearing polyester and nylon clothing on forward operating bases and camps in Iraq, the American wool industry stands ready to protect our U.S. soldiers who may be exposed to fire danger.
When exposed to extreme heat and flames, clothing containing some synthetic materials, like polyester, will melt and can fuse to the skin. This essentially creates a second skin and can lead to horrific, disfiguring burns, says Navy Capt. Lynn E. Welling, the 1st Marine Logistics Group head surgeon.
?Burns can kill you and they?re horribly disfiguring. If you?re throwing (a melted synthetic material) on top of a burn, basically you have a bad burn with a bunch of plastic melting into your skin?,? says Welling. ?In Iraq, hidden explosives (which trigger fires) are the number one killer of service members.?
Although the heat of an accidental fire is difficult to control, decreasing the exposure to heat through the use of proper clothing (i.e. clothing which includes fabrics made from wool) and safety equipment can significantly decrease the severity of burns.
Wool ? a natural, high-performance fiber ? is an unparalleled replacement to synthetic garments. The innate characteristics of wool provide the superior protection desired by soldiers. Wool naturally resists flames and it also provides great comfort because, by design, wool absorbs moisture from the soldier?s body. Wool products are far different and diverse from the heavy sweaters of the old days. With better processing technology, fiber blending and the use of proper wool types, today?s wool fabrics can be as light as lace or tough as fire-retardant fabric.
The American Sheep Industry Association?s (ASI) Wool Council, along with select partners, has been proactive in developing high-tech wool products that offer both protection and comfort to our military personnel. An enzyme-treated wool fabric is being worn by soldiers and airmen. A wear test with the Marines is pending on a wool/Nomex? blend. These fabrics are fire-retardant and comfortable, as well as cost-effective.
?We are excited about the new products we have developed to protect our soldiers when exposed to fire dangers and to keep them ready for action,? states Rita Kourlis Samuelson, director of wool marketing for ASI. ?Due to the advancements in textiles, the Wool Council has developed washable wool underwear that meet military criteria, durable socks which wick away moisture and fire-retardant fabrics.?
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