Comparison of heat strain recovery in different anti-heat stress clothing ensembles after work to exhaustion

Yijie Zhao, Wen Yi, Albert P C Chan, Daniel W M Chan
Journal of Thermal Biology 2017, 69: 311-318
A hot environment combined with physically demanding tasks can subject workers to a higher risk of heat stress. A series of regulations and guidelines have been proposed to design appropriate anti-heat stress work uniform to reduce body heat strain. The present study aimed to examine heat strain recovery in different anti-heat stress clothing ensembles after work to exhaustion in the heat. 10 healthy males performed intermittent treadmill running/walking to exhaustion, followed by 30min passive recovery sitting in a climatic chamber, which simulated the hot and humid outdoor environment (34°C temperature, 60% relative humidity, 0.3m/s air velocity, and 450W/m2 solar radiation). The participants took part in five wear trials in counter-balanced order, including Sportswear, CIC Uniform, NEW Uniform, ICEBANK Cooling Vest, and NEW Cooling Vest, which have different levels of cooling capacity. Core temperature, skin temperature, heart rate, sweat loss, ratings of perceived exertion, and thermal sensations were measured throughout the entire heat exposure period. Physiological heat strain indices, including the physiological strain index (PhSI) and the perceptual strain index (PeSI), were used as a yardstick to quantify and compare the rate of recovery. Significantly lower physiological strain was observed in the newly developed NEW Uniform and NEW Cooling Vest groups compared with the commonly worn CIC Uniform group during recovery. At the end of the recovery period, participants in NEW Cooling Vest achieved the highest recovery (42.18% in PhSI and 81.08% in PeSI), followed by ICEBANK Cooling Vest, Sportswear, NEW Uniform, and CIC Uniform. The cooling capacity of anti-heat stress clothing ensembles and the recovery time significantly affect the rate of recovery in PhSI and PeSI, which may benefit the industry by formulating the appropriate work-rest schedule by considering the clothing effect.

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