Hazardous materials

October 18, 2006, volume 37, no. 4
By Barry Shell

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It's hot (30° C) and humid (30% relative humidity) in the school of kinesiology's environmental physiology unit climatic chamber. Assistant professor Matt White is using the unit to test hazardous materials (HAZMAT) suits.

"Volunteers walk on a treadmill while wearing these suits and we follow their physiological responses such as core temperatures and heat rate, to assess which types of suits provide the least stress to the wearer," says White.

The lab also has a hyperbaric chamber to study human performance in extreme environments. It can simulate undersea dives to a depth of 305 metres (1,000 feet) using an immersion tank, or air flights to 33.5 km altitude (100,000 feet) for pilot training and aerospace testing. The walk-in climatic chamber goes from -25 C to +50 C. at 10% to 50% humidity.

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