A hazmat suit is a piece of protective clothing designed to protect the body from hazardous materials. However, the internal heat can pose a comfort or health issue to wearer under certain circumstances. So, how hot does it get in hazmat suits? Find out below.
Temperatures Inside a Hazmat Suit
Hazmat suits can be very effective at protecting wearers from dangerous chemical substsances and fluids. However, they come with a downside: heat.
The inside of a hazmat suit can reach 100 degrees fahrenheit and beyond. This poses a health risk to some wearer and their vital signs may need to be checked before donning it and after their work is complete and the suit is removed. In fact, excess heat inside a hazmat suit can result in wearer having weight loss due to lost fluids.
Fogging and Moisture Build-up Inside Hazmat Suits
Along with getting very hot inside, hazmat suits are susceptible to fogging and moisture build-up inside while they are worn. This can impair vision and cause chafing and discomfort to the person wearing it.
What Temperature Causes sweating?
A person usually begins to sweat when their body temperature gets to between 82-84 degrees fahrenheit. If it is really hot outside or inside a hazmat suit, a person’s body temperature will rise significantly, causing sweating. This can result in fluid loss through the sweat glands and cause fogging and moisture buildup inside the suit. This can make the task at hand more difficult and time consuming to complete.
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One benefit of level A or B hazmat suits is that they seal the wearer off from the environment. This adds protection from dangerous chemicals and particles, but also traps heat inside the suit. This is most likely to happen if the suit is worn for an extended period of time.
What you wear underneath a hazmat suit can affect the moisture buildup and internal temperature inside the suit. For more information, see our post What To Wear Under a Hazmat Suit.
One consequence of hazmat suits getting hot inside is heat stress, which can occur to some workers after a lengthy time working in them.
In fact, according to this study, full-body hazmat suits made of PVC that include rubber boots, gloves, full face masks and hard hats create significant risks of injury due to excessive heat.
How Do Hazmat Suits Stay Cool?
Hazmat suits stay cool mostly through the wearer staying out of hot weather. Unless there is additional cooling mechanisms included in the suit, it will eventually heat up to the point of causing sweating.
Hazmat suits least likely to get too hot inside are those that have elastic around the sleeves and ankle regions. The downside is that they are less fluid and particle resistant because these openings.
Hazmat suits can be combined with internal cooling systems (see below) that have varying degrees of effectiveness.
How To Stay Cool In A Hazmat Suit
There are ways to help stay cool while wearing a hazmat suit.
Wearing a hazmat suit in cold or mild weather will decrease the internal temperature to a certain extent and make it more comfortable to the user. Issues related to hazmat suit heat mostly arise when they are worn in hot weather or while working in enclosed structures, such as workshops, warehouses, powerplants, etc.
Here are some solutions to excess heat build-up inside a hazmat suit:
- Take a break (remove the suit, or partially remove the suit) and rest.
- Drink lots of water to replace lost fluids.
- Move into a cooler environment.
- Wear an internal cooling system
Cooling Systems For Hazmat Suits
Up until recently, cooling systems for hazmats suits were non-existent. However, different forms of hazmat suit cooling systems have appeared:
- Internal ice-plate vest with drinkable water.
- Reusable / disposable cooling vest
- Internal circulating water source delivery mechanism
- Internal air duct system
Only the first two options are currently available for purchase.
If you regularly use a hazmat suit in your job, it might be a good idea to invest in one of the solutions listed above. Reuseable cooling vests often have pockets that fit additional ice packs. This can help in lowering your overall body temperature while wearing the suit.
UP NEX: How To Store a HAZMAT Suit
Hazmat suits provide additional protection to wearers when they work with or near dangerous chemicals. However, wearing one creates a new safety risk associated with heat build up inside the suit. Always keep this in mind when you plan on wearing and working in a hazmat suit and decide beforehand how you will best handle it.