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Aviat Space Environ Med. 1992 Mar;63(3):186-92.

Temperature and humidity within the clothing microenvironment.

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  • 1Canadian Astronaut Program Office, Canadian Space Agency, Rockliffe Base, Ottawa, Ontario.


The present study investigates clothing microenvironment conditions that may develop during prolonged exposure of workers to a hot environment. Five subjects were exposed to a linear increase in ambient temperature from 20-40 degrees C over a 90-min period, and then remained at 40 degrees C for an additional 90 min. During the exposures, subjects were clad in four types of helicopter personnel suits (Gore-Tex, Cotton Ventile, Nomex/Insulite, and Nomex/Neoprene), incorporating both dry-suit and wet-suit designs. Continuous assessment was made of skin temperature, rectal temperature, and of microenvironment temperature, relative humidity, and vapor pressure (T mu, RH mu, and VP mu) 8 mm from the surface of the skin. Results indicate that although microenvironment temperatures were similar among suits and slightly lower than that of the environment, the RH mu and VP mu were much greater than those of the ambient air. The Nomex/Insulite and Nomex/Neoprene suits showed the highest VP mu, of which only the Nomex/Insulite resulted in significantly greater increases in rectal temperature, likely due to complete covering of the body with the impermeable insulite component. The present study demonstrates the need to discern between the ambient conditions and the conditions encountered next to the skin when protective clothing is worn.

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