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Reflective Inserts to Reduce Heat Strain in Body Armor: Tests With and Without Irradiance

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Cadarette BS, Santee WR, Robinson SB, Sawka MN. Reflective inserts to reduce heat strain in body armor: tests with and without irradiance. Aviat Space Environ Med 2007; 78:809–813.



Background: This study evaluated adding reflective thermal inserts (RTI) to reduce the physiological strain during exercise-heat stress with a radiant load. RTI were used with a U.S. Army desert battle dress uniform, body armor, and helmet. Methods: Four male volunteers attempted four trials (10 min rest followed by 100 min walking at 1.56 m · s−1). All trials were at 40.0°C dry bulb (Tdb), 12.4°C dew point (Tdp), 20% RH, and 1.0 m · s−1 wind speed. On 2 d, there was supplementary irradiance (+I) with globe temperature (Tbg) = 56.5°C and on 2 d there was no supplementary irradiance (−I) with Tbg ∼ Tdb. Trial conditions were: 1) RTI and armor with supplementary irradiance (RA+I); 2) plain armor with supplementary irradiance (PA+I); 3) RTI and armor with no supplementary irradiance (RA−I); and 4) plain armor with no supplementary irradiance (PA−I). Results: Endurance times were not significantly different among trials. With one exception, armor and helmet interior and exterior surface temperatures were not significantly different between either RA+I and PA+I or RA−I and PA−I. Temperature on the inside of the helmet in RA+I (47.1 ± 1.4°C) was significantly lower than in PA+I (49.5 ± 2.6°C). There were no differences for any physiological measure (core temperature, heart rate, mean weighted skin temperature, forehead skin temperature, sweating rate, evaporative cooling, rate of heat storage) between either RA+I and PA+I or RA−I and PA−I. Conclusions: Results showed no evidence that wearing RTI with body armor and helmet reduces physiological strain during exercise-heat stress with either high or low irradiance.
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Keywords: core temperature; exercise; skin temperature; solar load

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2007

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