Inside the ‘Hurt Locker’: The combined effects of explosive ordnance disposal and chemical protective clothing on physiological tolerance time in extreme environments

Costello, Joseph, Stewart, Kelly L., & Stewart, Ian B. (2015) Inside the ‘Hurt Locker’: The combined effects of explosive ordnance disposal and chemical protective clothing on physiological tolerance time in extreme environments. Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 59(7), pp. 922-931.

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Abstract

Background

Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technicians are often required to wear specialised clothing combinations that not only protect against the risk of explosion but also potential chemical contamination. This heavy (>35kg) and encapsulating ensemble is likely to increase physiological strain by increasing metabolic heat production and impairing heat dissipation. This study investigated the physiological tolerance times of two different chemical protective undergarments, commonly worn with EOD personal protective clothing, in a range of simulated environmental extremes and work intensities

Methods

Seven males performed eighteen trials wearing two ensembles. The trials involved walking on a treadmill at 2.5, 4 and 5.5 km.h-1 at each of the following environmental conditions, 21, 30 and 37°C wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT). The trials were ceased if the participants’ core temperature reached 39°C, if heart rate exceeded 90% of maximum, if walking time reached 60 minutes or due to volitional fatigue.

Results

Physiological tolerance times ranged from 8 to 60 min and the duration (mean difference: 2.78 min, P>0.05) were similar in both ensembles. A significant effect for environment (21>30>37°C WBGT, P<0.05) and work intensity (2.5>4>5.5 km.h-1, P< 0.05) was observed in tolerance time. The majority of trials across both ensembles (101/126; 80.1%) were terminated due to participants achieving a heart rate equivalent to greater than 90% of their maximum.

Conclusions

Physiological tolerance times wearing these two chemical protective undergarments, worn underneath EOD personal protective clothing, were similar and predominantly limited by cardiovascular strain.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 82428
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Personal Protective Equipment, Temperature Regulation, Heat Stress, Heat Strain
DOI: 10.1093/annhyg/mev029
ISSN: 1475-3162
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > HUMAN MOVEMENT AND SPORTS SCIENCE (110600) > Exercise Physiology (110602)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 The Author(s)
Deposited On: 19 Apr 2015 22:35
Last Modified: 05 May 2016 09:53

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