The Australian defence forces encountered an unforeseen problem when they began to use the optical instruments in tropical areas; fungus would grow inside the instruments and water would condense on the optics more easily than in non-tropical areas. This fungal growth would fog binoculars, cameras and other equipment, and this moisture would encourage further fungal growth. Thus, research into an anti-fungal treatment was required to enable the optical instruments to be effectively used in the tropics.
The Tropic Proofing Committee was established by the Optical Munitions Panel in 1943 and carried out this research quite successfully. Over 15,000 binoculars were tropic proofed with 'MTS anti-mould' or 'Merthiosal' (ethyl mercury thiosalicylate) - a fungicide found to be particularly effective in the fight against mould. This chemical was introduced to the paint, cements and waxes used in the optical instruments to inhibit mould growth.
The work of the Tropic Proofing Committee was based in the Department of Botany at the University of Melbourne, and was headed by Professor J.S. Turner.