Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Public Health

Major Professor

Thomas E. Bernard, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Candi D. Ashely, PhD.

Committee Member

Steve Mlynarek, PhD.


heat stress, metabolic rate, microclimate cooling, heat sink, heat storage


Heat stress is a well documented hazard across industries. The combination of environmental conditions, work demands, and clothing contribute to heat strain. Left unchecked, heat strain causes changes in an individual's physiological state that can lead to serious and fatal conditions with little warning. Although engineering and administrative controls are the first choice to abate this hazard, they frequently are not feasible. In these cases, personal cooling is often employed. There are three main types of personal cooling: liquid, air, and passive. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

This study focuses on continuous cooling using a portable liquid cooling system (LCS). The LCS used a vest with tubes circulating water from an ice heat sink. The experiment consisted of five males each completing seven tests in random order. The subjects wore work clothes as the control then in conjunction with a firefighter, vapor barrier, and bomb suits. Each suit was tested with and without the benefit of the LCS. All of the tests took place at 35oC dry bulb and 50% relative humidity while attempting to walk 90 minutes on a treadmill at a 300 W metabolic rate.

The study found continuous use of the LCS significantly reduced heat storage (S) and the rate of rise of heart rate (rrHR), core temperature (rrTre), and mean skin temperature (rrTsk) for the firefighter and vapor barrier suits as compared to no-cooling. Although the LCS didn't significantly affect the rate of rise for physiological responses with the bomb suit, it did however, significantly increase the endurance time. Interestingly, the study also found when wearing either the vapor barrier or firefighter suits in conjunction with the LCS that the rrHR and rrTre were not significantly different from only wearing work clothes.