Reduced work tolerance associated with wearing protective clothing and respirators

Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 1987 Apr;48(4):304-10.


This study examined worker tolerance and physiological responses to two levels of work while subjects wore various types of protective clothing and respirators. Nine healthy men (mean age = 24.8 years, weight = 75.3 kg, max VO2 = 44.6 mL/kg/min), experienced with the use of respirators, each performed a randomized series of eight experimental tests, each test scheduled to last 180 min. Work was performed on a motor-driven treadmill at a set walking speed and elevation indicative of either 30% (low work intensity) or 60% (high work intensity) of maximum work capacity for each individual. Four protective clothing ensembles were examined: light work clothing (LIGHT), light work clothing with SCBA (SCBA), firefighter's turnout gear with SCBA (FF) and chemical protective clothing with SCBA (CHEM). Physiological measurements included heart rate, skin and rectal temperature, and minute ventilation. Measurements were obtained every 2.5 min until test termination (tolerance time). If less than 180 min, tolerance time was defined by subjective or objective signs of near maximal stress. Mean tolerance times at the low work intensity were 167, 130, 26 and 73 min, respectively, for the LIGHT, SCBA, FF and CHEM ensembles. At the high intensity, mean tolerance times were 91, 23, 4 and 13 min, respectively. At the low work intensity, heart rate with SCBA rose very slowly during the tests and remained approximately 15 beats/min higher than the heart rate for subjects wearing the LIGHT ensemble. In contrast, heart rate with the FF and CHEM ensembles rose sharply and did not approach steady-state values.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Weight
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Protective Clothing*
  • Protective Devices*
  • Respiratory Protective Devices*
  • Time Factors
  • Work*