Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1987;13(1):37-46    pdf


Circulatory and thermal responses of men with different training status to prolonged physical work in dry and humid heat.

by Smolander J, Ilmarinen R, Korhonen O, Pyykko I

Eight physically trained and eight untrained, unacclimated men walked on a treadmill at 30% of their maximum oxygen consumption up to 3.5 h in a thermoneutral [20 degrees C/40% relative humidity (RH)], a warm humid (30 degrees C/80% RH), and a hot dry (40 degrees C/20% RH) environment while wearing industrial work clothing. Their oxygen consumption, rectal and skin temperatures, sweating, cardiac output, heart rate, stroke volume, and peripheral blood pressure were measured during the tests. Thirteen of the 32 heat stress tests were prematurely stopped due to high rectal temperature, high heart rate, subjective fatigue, or heat syncope. The physiological strain, as indicated by the rectal temperature and heart rate, was not significantly different between the warm humid and hot dry environments (wet bulb globe temperature approximately 28 degrees C). The rectal temperature and heart rate responses of the physically trained and untrained subjects did not differ in any of the environments. In the heat, the heart rate was significantly higher than in the thermoneutral environment, but because of the markedly reduced stroke volume the average cardiac output was not different between the three environments. The impaired work performance in the heat seemed mainly to be related to the circulatory instability accompanying the increased cutaneous circulation.