Protective clothing and heat stress

Ergonomics. 1995 Jan;38(1):166-82. doi: 10.1080/00140139508925093.


The high level of protection required by protective clothing (PPC) severely impedes heat exchange by sweat evaporation. As a result work associated with wearing PPC, particularly in hot environments, implies considerable physiological strain and may render workers exhausted in a short time. Current methods of describing evaporative heat exchange with PPC are insufficient, will overestimate evaporative heat loss and should not be recommended. More reliable measures of the resistance to evaporative heat transfer by PPC should be developed and standardized. Direct measurements of evaporative resistance of PPC may be carried. However, a more promising method appears to be the definition of evaporative resistance on the basis of the icl-index for the fabric layers. The icl-index is a permeation efficiency ratio, which in combination with clothing insulation determines the evaporative heat transfer. Current methods should be further developed to account for effects of moisture condensation and microclimate ventilation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology
  • Heat Exhaustion / physiopathology
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Protective Clothing / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Physiological / complications*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology
  • Sweating / physiology