Practical pre-cooling methods for occupational heat exposure

Emily R Watkins, Mark Hayes, Peter Watt, Alan J Richardson
Applied Ergonomics 2018, 70: 26-33
This study aimed to identify a pre-cooling method to reduce the physiological and perceptual strain, and the inflammatory response, experienced by individuals who wear personal protective equipment. Eleven males (age 20 ± 2 years, weight 75.8 ± 9.3 kg, height 177.1 ± 5.0 cm) completed 15min pre-cooling (phase change vest [PCV], forearm cooling [ARM], ice slurry consumption [ICE], or a no cooling control [CON]) and 45min intermittent walk (4  km h-1 , 1% gradient) in 49.5 ± 0.6 °C and 15.4 ± 1.0% RH, whilst wearing firefighter ensemble. ICE reduced rectal temperature (Tre ) before heat exposure compared to CON (ΔTre : 0.24 ± 0.09 °C, p < 0.001, d = 0.38) and during exercise compared to CON, ARM, and PCV (p = 0.026, ηp 2  = 0.145). Thermal sensation was reduced in ICE and ARM vs. CON (p = 0.018, ηp 2  = 0.150). Interleukin-6 was not affected by pre-cooling (p = 0.648, ηp 2  = 0.032). It is recommended that those wearing protective equipment consume 500 ml of ice slurry 15min prior to work to reduce physiological and perceptual strain.

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