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Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 1987 Jul;48(7):639-45.

The effect of temperature and humidity levels in a protective mask on user acceptability during exercise.


Subjective and physiological responses were obtained from six subjects wearing a ventilated face mask while exercising (3.8 met) for 15 min on a bicycle ergometer. Different combinations of ambient air temperatures (7 degrees, 16 degrees, 25 degrees C) and mask air temperatures (22 degrees, 27 degrees, 33 degrees C) were studied together with two different air humidities inside the mask (61% and 86% RH). Control experiments were performed without the mask at the same ambient temperatures. Skin temperatures, heart rates and skin wettedness were monitored during exercise. The subject's acceptance of the mask and thermal environment, thermal sensation, sensations of discomfort, sweating and skin wettedness, and their judgment of the work of breathing were assessed at the end of the 15 min exercise period. The acceptance of both the ambient thermal environment and of the thermal microclimate in the mask primarily was determined by the ambient air temperature, but it was influenced by the air temperature and humidity inside the mask. At ambient temperatures of 7 degrees C and 25 degrees C, the acceptance of the thermal work conditions decreased. In the warm environment a mask air temperature less than or equal to 27 degrees C was 100% acceptable and increased the acceptance of thermal environment. In the cool environment, a mask air temperature greater than or equal to 27 degrees C was 100% acceptable. The humidity content of the mask air was only important when the mask air was warm. Warm humid air significantly decreased acceptance of the mask conditions.

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