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Nutritional and environmental studies on an ocean-going oil tanker. 1. Thermal environment
  1. K. J. Collins,
  2. T. P. Eddy,
  3. D. E. Lee,
  4. P. G. Swann
  1. MRC Environmental Physiology Unit and Department of Human Nutrition, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London W.C.1
  2. The Esso Petroleum Company, Medical Department, Esso House, Victoria Street, London S.W.1


    Collins, K. J., Eddy, T. P., Lee, D. E., and Swann, P. G. (1971).Brit. J. industr. Med.,28, 237-245. Nutritional and environmental studies on an ocean-going oil tanker. I. Thermal environment. Investigations were made on board a modern, air-conditioned oil tanker (S.S. Esso Newcastle) en route to the Persian Gulf in July to August 1967 in order to study thermal conditions in the working environment, and the nutritional status of the crew, and to examine the interrelationship between climate and nutritional balance. In this introductory paper an account is given of the aims and design of the experiments together with details of the environmental survey.

    The voyage round Africa lasted one month, with high ambient temperatures of 37·7°C dry bulb, 30·8°C wet bulb (100/87°F) occurring only on the last few days into and out of the Persian Gulf. Mean accommodation temperature was maintained in the zone of comfort throughout, and at 23·9°C (75°F) Corrected Effective Temperature (CET) in the Gulf. On a previous voyage in a tanker without air-conditioning CETs up to 31·6°C (89°F) had been recorded in the accommodation in the same ambient conditions. With exposure to high solar radiation in the Gulf, the deck officer's cabins and bridge house in the upper superstructure became uncomfortably warm (CET exceeding 26·6°C (80°F)) and in these temperatures skilled performance is likely to deteriorate.

    The main thermal problems in the working environment were associated with the engine and boiler rooms which were consistently 11 to 17°C (20 to 30°F) higher than ambient temperature. For personnel on watch, the levels of heat stress were high but not intolerable if advantage was taken of the air blowers. Conditions under which emergency or repair tasks were carried out in very hot engine-room spaces were examined and often found to allow only a small margin of safety. Predicted average tolerance times were deduced from the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) scale of heat stress. Additional safeguards in these work situations could include the use of a WBGT meter and self-contained air-conditioned protective clothing, and the provision of air-conditioned cubicles.

    The CET and WBGT heat stress indices were compared in a wide range of climates with Predicted 4-hr Sweat Rates (P4SR) from 0·1 to 4·9. The regressions of WBGT on P4SR and CET on P4SR were best fitted by quadratic relationships, but the WBGT regression approximated more closely to linearity under the conditions of the present survey.

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