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.

View at publisher (open access)



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


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.


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.


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:

3 citations in Scopus
Search Google Scholar™
1 citations in Web of Science®

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

12 since deposited on 19 Apr 2015
7 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

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

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page