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Benefit of heat acclimation is limited by the evaporative potential when wearing chemical protective clothing

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Heat acclimation-induced sweating responses have the potential of reducing heat strain for chemical protective garment wearers. However, this potential benefit is strongly affected by the properties of the garment. If the clothing ensemble permits sufficient evaporative heat dissipation, then heat acclimation becomes helpful in reducing heat strain. On the other hand, if the garment creates an impenetrable barrier to moisture, no benefit can be gained from heat acclimation as the additional sweating cannot be evaporated. Ten subjects were studied exercising on a treadmill while wearing two different chemical protective ensembles. Skin heat flux, skin temperature, core temperature, metabolic heat production and heart rate were measured. It was found that the benefit of heat acclimation is strongly dependent on the ability of the body to dissipate an adequate amount of heat evaporatively. The evaporative potential (EP), a measure of thermal insulation modified by moisture permeability, of the clothing ensemble offers a quantitative index useful to determine, a priori, whether heat acclimation would be helpful when wearing protective clothing system. The data show that when EP is <15%, heat acclimation affords no benefit. An evaporative potential graph is created to aid in this determination.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 1999

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