08 Mar Heat tolerance and the validity of occupational heat exposure limits in women during moderate-intensity work
Notley SR, Akerman AP, Friesen BJ, Poirier MP, McCourt E, Flouris A, Kenny GP. Heat tolerance and the validity of occupational heat exposure limits in women during moderate-intensity work. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2022 Mar 8. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2022-0003. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35259026.
To mitigate excessive rises in core temperature (>1°C) in non heat-acclimatized workers, the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) provide heat stress limits (Action Limit Values; ALV), defined by the wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT) and a worker’s metabolic rate. However, since these limits are based on data from men, their suitability for women remains unclear.
We therefore assessed core temperature and heart rate in men (n=19; body surface area-to-mass ratio: 250 (SD 17) cm2/kg) and women (n=15; body surface area-to-mass ratio: 268 (SD 24) cm2/kg) aged 18-45 years during 180-min walking at a moderate metabolic rate (200 W/m2) in WBGTs below (16 and 24°C) and above (28 and 32°C) ACGIH ALV. Sex did not significantly influence (i) rises in core temperature, irrespective of WBGT, (ii) the proportion of participants with rises in core temperature >1°C in environments below ACGIH limits, and (iii) work duration before rises in core temperature exceeded 1°C or volitional termination in environments above ACGIH limits.
Although further studies are needed, these findings indicate that for the purpose of mitigating rises in core temperature exceeding recommended limits (>1°C), ACGIH guidelines have comparable effectiveness in non heat-acclimatized men and women when working at a moderate metabolic rate. Novelty points • Sex did not appreciably influence thermal strain nor the proportion of participants with core temperatures exceeding recommended limits. • Sex did not significantly influence tolerance to uncompensable heat stress • Despite originating from data obtained in only men, current occupational heat stress guidance offered comparable effectiveness in men and women.
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