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    Comfort or Protection: The Clothing Dilemma

    Published: Jan 1996

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    The need to provide protection from a variety of hazards is often met by the use of special clothing. Unfortunately, complete protection often necessitates apparel design which, for various reasons, cannot be tolerated by the human body.

    The dilemma relates to human comfort and survival needs. People cannot tolerate lack of oxygen, nor can they survive exposure to excess heat, occasioned by preventing moisture resulting from perspiration from escaping into the atmosphere. Lack of air, or water build-up inside a garment can literally produce serious physiological overloading, ending possibly in death if the situation is not corrected. Thus, for instance, although protection from chemical, microbiological or radiative harm can theoretically be provided by total isolation of the body within a garment system, this approach is not feasible in practice, both because of breathing difficulties and because of heat build-up.

    In this paper, the conflicting factors involved in providing protection while maintaining comfort are reviewed, and the current solutions proposed for resolving the dilemma, including the use of coated or microporous fabrics, external cooling or air supply arrangements, and clothing design, are critically evaluated.


    protection, clothing, barrier, enclosure, comfort, dilemma, degradation, coated fabrics, external venting, garment design

    Author Information:

    Slater, K
    Professor, School of Engineering, University of Guelph, Ontario

    Committee/Subcommittee: F23.93

    DOI: 10.1520/STP14088S

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