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The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research, development, and evaluation arm of DOJ, conducted extensive testing on used Zylon-based body armor.
The testing was carried out as part of the Attorney General's Body Armor Safety Initiative, which began in November 2003.
NIJ's research also showed that ballistic-resistant material, including Zylon, can degrade as a result of exposure to environmental conditions, such as moisture and light.
It is likely that the ballistic performance degradation in Zylon-containing armor is closely related to the chemical changes found in what is known as the oxazole ring.
Only four used armor vests tested met all performance criteria under NIJ's body armor standard for new body armor.
In the tests, age and appearance of used Zylon-based vests were ineffective predictors of potential ballistic performance.
The Department is issuing a Body Armor Standard Advisory Notice to alert law enforcement to the potential risks associated with the use of Zylon in body armor, and will adopt new interim requirements for its body armor compliance testing program.
Recognition and acceptance of the NIJ standard has grown worldwide, making it the performance benchmark for ballistic-resistant body armor.
NIJ's Body Armor Web pages discuss the Body Armor Safety Initiative; explains the results of body armor research and explores future research; provides information on standards and testing; and offers links to resources that help agencies select and fund body armor purchases." (August 30, 2007).
As a result, body armor models that contain Zylon will not be compliant, unless their manufacturers provide satisfactory evidence to NIJ that the models will maintain their ballistic performance over their declared warranty period.
Also, until the new requirements become effective, Zylon-containing armor vests will not be eligible for purchase with federal funds through the BVP program. 254 Posted July 7, 2006 When a Zylon-based body armor that had passed NIJ standards failed to fully protect an officer in 2003, NIJ began investigating why.