Use of physiological and perceptual dimensions of clothing comfort to evaluate nonwoven protective fabrics through wear testing of limited-use coveralls

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this research was to identify nonwoven protective fabrics designed to have improved comfort properties over a fabric currently used in limited-use chemical protective clothing by using physiological and perceptual dimensions of comfort. Fabrics that are both waterproof and breathable have potential for use in chemical protective clothing by repelling liquid while allowing the diffusion of moisture vapor from the body. Microporous laminated fabrics used in chemical protective clothing allow moisture to evaporate from the body and move through the fabric while preventing liquid chemicals from coming in contact with the skin. Five fabric types were evaluated by wear testing coveralls and measuring selected physiological and perceptual responses of five subjects performing moderate-intensity exercise in thermoneutral and hot, humid environments. Physiological responses included skin temperature, body temperature, heart rate, sweat rate, and fluid loss. Perceptual responses included moisture sensation, thermal sensation, Rating of Perceived Exertion, and overall comfort. In the thermoneutral environment, results show heart rate to be the only variable affected by the different fabric types, while time effect was significant within all dependent variables. In the hot, humid environment, skin and body temperatures were significantly affected by fabric type, while time effect was significant within all variables except skin temperature. The environment effect was significant within all dependent variables except RPE and heart rate. Based on the statistical insignificance of subjects' overall comfort responses in both environments, it can be said that the differences in the physical characteristics of the fabrics may not be great enough to affect the wearer's comfort level. However, two of the four fabrics were determined to have potential for further investigation. Further research comparing experimental fabrics with fabrics used widely in industry will continue the effort of improving the comfort of limited-use protective clothing.



Fabric, Clothing comfort, Heat Stress, Protective clothing