Heat strain and heat stress for workers wearing protective suits at a hazardous waste site

Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 1987 May;48(5):458-63. doi: 10.1080/15298668791385048.


In order to evaluate the effects of heat stress when full body protective suits are worn, heart rates, oral temperatures and environmental parameters were measured for five unacclimatized male workers (25-33 years of age) who performed sampling activities during hazardous waste clean-up operations. The protective ensembles included laminated PVC-Tyvec chemical resistant hood suits with rubber boots, gloves full facepiece dual cartridge respirators and hard hats. For comparison, measurements also were performed when the men worked at a similar level of activity while they wore ordinary work clothes. A comparison of the heart rates for the men working with and without suits indicated that wearing the suits imposed a heat stress equivalent to adding 6 degrees to 11 degrees C (11 degrees to 20 degrees F) to the ambient WBGT index. A similar result was obtained by calculating the WBGT in the microclimate inside the suits and comparing it to the ambient WBGT. These results indicate the following: 1) there exists a significant risk of heat injury during hazardous waste work when full body protective clothing is worn, and 2) threshold limit values for heat stress established by the ACGIH must be lowered substantially before extending them to cover workers under these conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Temperature*
  • Heart Rate*
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maximum Allowable Concentration
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Protective Clothing*
  • Refuse Disposal*