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Ergonomics. 1994 Aug;37(8):1375-89.

Impact of wet underwear on thermoregulatory responses and thermal comfort in the cold.

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SINTEF UNIMED, Section for Extreme Work Environment, Trondheim, Norway.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the significance of wet underwear and to compare any influence of fibre-type material and textile construction of underwear on thermoregulatory responses and thermal comfort of humans during rest in the cold. Long-legged/long-sleeved underwear manufactured from 100% polypropylene in a 1-by-1 rib knit structure was tested dry and wet as part of a two-layer clothing system. In addition cotton (1-by-1 rib knit), wool (1-by-1 rib knit), polypropylene (fishnet), and a double-layer material manufactured from 47% wool and 53% polypropylene (interlock knit) was tested wet in the clothing system. In the wet condition 175 g of water was distributed in the underwear prior to the experiment. The test was done on eight men (T(a) = 10 degrees C, RH = 85%, V(a) < 0.1 m/s), and comprised a 60 min resting period. Skin temperature, rectal temperature, and weight loss were recorded during the test. Total changes in body and clothing weight were measured separately. Furthermore, subjective ratings on thermal comfort and sensation were collected. The tests demonstrated the significant cooling effect of wet underwear on thermoregulatory responses and thermal comfort. Further, the tests showed that textile construction of underwear in a two-layer clothing ensemble has an effect on the evaporation rate from clothing during rest in the cold resulting in a significant difference in mean skin temperature. The thickness of the underwear has more of an influence on the thermoregulatory responses and thermal comfort, than the types of fibres tested.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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