Effects of Forearm vs. Leg Submersion in Work Tolerance Time in a Hot Environment While Wearing Firefighter Protective Clothing

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Department or Administrative Unit

Nutrition Exercise and Health Sciences

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This study compared physiological responses and total work tolerance time following forearm submersion (FS) or leg submersion (LS) in cool water, after performing work in a hot environment while wearing fire fighting protective clothing (FPC). Participants walked at 3.5 mph on a treadmill in a hot environment (WBGT 32.8 ± 0.9°C) until a rectal temperature (Trec) of 38.5°C was reached. Participants were then subjected to one of two peripheral cooling interventions, in a counterbalanced order. Forearms or lower legs were submerged in water (16.9 ± 0.8°C) for a total of 20 min, followed by a work tolerance trial. Results indicated no significant difference (p = 0.052) between work tolerance time (LS = 21.36 ± 5.35 min vs. FS = 16.27 ± 5.56 min). Similarly, there was no significant difference for Trec (p = 0.65), heart rate (HR) (p = 0.79), mean skin temperature (Tsk) (p = 0.68), and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) (p = 0.54). However, LS ratings of thermal comfort (RTC) at Minute 14 (p = 0.03) were significantly lower for LS (10 ± 1) vs. FS (12 ± 1). Results indicate little difference between FS and LS for physiological measures. Despite a lack of statistical significance a 5-min (24%) increase was found during the work tolerance time following LS.


This article was originally published in Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene


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