How These Different Kinds of Cooling PPE Technology Can Help You

There are so many types of cooling PPE gears available. Although it is relatively new research it does not mean it does not exist. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is important to workplace safety. However, it can also be uncomfortably hot for its wearers. Furthermore, warm weather doesn’t exactly help either. The latest cooling PPE research and products are looking to keep workers cool while wearing it without compromising on protection.

You may have office staffs who have to wear long pants or arc-flash and fire-resistant (AFR) clothing to shield them from other workplace hazards. With that being said, the potential for heat stress is even greater.

NIOSH Research

Screenshot of NIOSH Official Website

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) studies and researches the use of cooling PPE types in its 2016 recommendation. It is the same suggestion for a standard for heat and hot environments. They come to find that cooling PPE can help alleviate the heat caused by wearing protective clothing or equipment. However, there are limitations for each type of cooling garment.

Protective clothing such as AFR clothing can add to the heat stress of summer work. This may encourage and tempt many workers to go without it. AFR clothing may protect workers from sparks. However, it makes body-temperature regulation difficult.

All clothing will affect the rate and amount of heat exchange between the wearer’s skin and the ambient air. This is especially true for clothing developed to provide protection against hazardous chemical, physical, and biologic agents. Clothing sequesters the wearer from the external environment and also traps body heat.

Wearing impermeable, protective clothing significantly limits heat exchange. The porousness prevents the evaporative heat transfer regularly is accomplished through sweating. Wearing and working in PPE clothing, which sometimes can be heavy, also needs additional metabolic energy. It can create even more body heat.

Different Kinds of Cooling PPE

Different Kinds of Cooling PPE
Image via Pixabay

In this article, we will talk about the different types of cooling PPE that are known. You are able to get them readily available from suppliers. Let’s find out what they are.

NIOSH has gauged 4 auxiliary cooling methods for its heat and hot environments criteria document:

  • Water-cooled garments
  • Air-cooled garments
  • Cooling vests
  • Wetted overgarments

Water-cooled garments have cooling lubricant tubing sewn into the garment and an external operating device. The operating device may come with a battery, circulating pump, control pad, fluid container, and heat exchanger. However, the weight and volume of the operating device may decrease a wearer’s movement. It may also impose an extra weight burden. A water-cooled garment may come with the following:

  • Water-cooled cap paired with a water-cooled vest
  • Long water-cooled undergarment
  • Short water-cooled undergarment

Gel chemistry, cooling towels and wraps

Gel chemistry, cooling towels and wraps
Image via Pixabay

Reusable frozen gel packs have been around for many years. You can normally find these used in hospitals as:

  • Post-surgical treatment options
  • Provide comfort to nursing mothers
  • Help people deal with heatwaves from hormone changes
  • Chemotherapy
  • Other certain medical conditions

Doctors and other similar medical personnel often put frozen packs in their pockets, chest areas, or under their straps. Other cooling strategies may include products disguised as necklaces with huge cooling beads in the form of a long wrap. The reusable beads are gel packs that can be chilled again and again. Some headbands and neck wraps use evaporative technology to keep the wearer cool.

Cooling towels are also another choice.  A huge range of products is also commercially available. Many are made from polyvinyl acetate, microfiber, cotton or a mixture of several chemistries. The cooling mechanisms may differ per product. Some use evaporation, while some others use what is also known as phase-changing technology. It is where a removable pack, filled with saline or distilled water, can be frozen again and again repeatedly.

There are also pre-dampened towels that use natural ingredients such as lime and lemon oil, aloe vera juice, and water to create an instant cooling feeling. A long-lasting cooling towel product can be hung around your neck and positioned under your PPE.

People may say that only medical personnel use it. However, they are mistaken. There are also offshore people, labourers, and similar people using this. It does not just limit to medical personnel. These can be used by anyone who wears PPE too.

Powders, natural chemistries, and skin-softening strategies

Powders, natural chemistries, and skin-softening strategies
Image via Pixabay

Some people working in the medical field find a dab of peppermint oil on the back of the neck creates a cooling sensation. Thermoreceptors in the skin are able to sense a cooling sensation created by the menthol in peppermint. Topical usage of peppermint oil generates a long-lasting cooling effect on the wearer’s skin.

Body powders, where it is made to absorb moisture, can help maintain a dry feeling on your skin. This is especially accommodating in areas where clothing can cause skin chaffing. Basic corn-starch-based powders are the most popular. Some powders come with additional ingredients such as powdered slippery elm, ground cocoa butter, kaolin clay, arrowroot rice powder, tapioca starch or baking soda.

Some products are also labelled as vegan. There are also powder products that come with calamine to reduce skin friction.  Some powders contain antifungal ingredients to reduce the problem of a fungal dermatitis outbreak.

Medical personnel are also adopting two other strategies to tackle excessive perspiration. Natural mineral ammonium salt sticks have been used for many years as a natural deodorant that has antimicrobial and astringent properties. After washing, the hard stone is rubbed across your wet skin surface, then dry. While it is not specifically formulated for cooling, some use FiteBac. FiteBac is a silicone-based hand sanitiser to create a smooth-feeling skin surface that fights chaffing. Since skin pathogens thrive in warm, moist environments, FiteBac’s exclusive antimicrobial properties help kill microbes for up to four hours.

Keeping Your Head Cool

Keeping Your Head Cool
Image via Pixabay

While scientists have refuted the idea that we lose more heat from our head, most of us have never covered our hair for work purposes. Currently, there is one more reason that we feel hot. Scrub caps or bouffant hair coverings come in all kinds of fabrics. Some people find a larger size improves heat dissipation. While others are donning damp caps, taking benefit of the cooling effect as the moisture evaporates. Some medical personnel wet their hair before putting on a cap and allow Mother Nature to help them stay cool.


The bottom line is that there are so many ways of keeping yourself cool when wearing PPE. Above are some of the common types of cooling PPE you can currently find available from suppliers. Although the majority seems to favour medical personnel more, it does not mean you cannot use it with non-medical PPE. You can use cooling pads when you wear coveralls. However, it’s the matter of whether if there are cooling cabinets or refrigerators available where you are located.

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