Physiological strains of wearing aluminized and non-aluminized firefighters' protective clothing during exercise in radiant heat

Chinmei Chou, Yutaka Tochihara, Mohamed Saat Ismail, Joo-Young Lee
Industrial Health 2011, 49 (2): 185-94
This study examined the influences of aluminized (Type A) and non-aluminized firefighters' protective clothing (Type B, C, D and CON) on physiological and subjective responses in radiant heat. Total clothing weight was 6.24, 6.38, 6.06, 5.76 and 3.82 kg for Type A, B, C, D and CON, respectively. Eight firefighters performed exercise at an air temperature of 30°C with 50%RH. Three bouts of 10 min-bicycle exercise in radiant heat (a globe temperature of 70°C) was spaced by a 10 min rest with no radiant heat. Results showed that rectal temperature, mean skin temperature, heart rate, and body weight loss were significantly greater in Type A than in other types (p<0.05). For Type A, thermal gradient of the body reached 0.0 ± 0.7°C, heart rate showed a maximum level of 183 ± 11 bpm and 1.9% of body weight was lost due to sweat secretion. Firefighters felt the hottest and most discomfort in Type A. It appeared that firefighters' thermoregulatory mechanism was severely challenged by wearing aluminized protective clothing during exercise in strong radiant heat. Therefore, it is suggested that the safe upper limits while wearing aluminized firefighters' clothing should be distinguished from those for typical firefighters' protective clothing.

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