Inside the 'Hurt Locker': the combined effects of explosive ordnance disposal and chemical protective clothing on physiological tolerance time in extreme environments
© Costello et al. 2015
Published: 14 September 2015
Explosive ordinance 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 (>35 kg) and encapsulating ensemble is likely to increase physiological strain by increasing metabolic heat production and impairing heat dissipation [1, 2]. This study investigated the physiological tolerance times of two different chemical protective undergarments (2.9 kg v's 4.2 kg), 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 °C, 30 °C and 37 °C wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT). The trials were ceased if the participants' gastrointestinal temperature reached 39 °C, if heart rate exceeded 90 % of maximum, if walking time reached 60 minutes or due to volitional fatigue.
Discussion and conclusion
This is the first study to systematically compare the physiological tolerance times of two air-permeable, charcoal-impregnated chemical protective undergarments while worn in combination with EOD personal protective clothing. Physiological tolerance times wearing these two ensembles were similar and predominantly limited by cardiovascular strain.
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