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Wearing cooling-materials under the PPE to reduce the total number of "doffings"

"Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) worn by healthcare workers becomes incredibly hot, especially in humid environments, making it essential for health care workers to take multiple breaks. Each time the PPE is put on or taken off, the risk of infection increases." Quote from the challenge This made me think about how to reduce the total number the PPE's are taken off...

Photo of Tobias Schlipf
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The highest risk of spreading the virus in my opinion arises from a large number of nurses and doctors taking off their PPE’s (“doffing”) and disposing them after treating patients.

Due to extreme environmental conditions such as enormous heat, regularly breaks are necessary which leads to an increased total number of doctors/ nurses doffing their PPE's. Therefore, I suggest counteracting the extreme heat by wearing cooling-materials under the PPE or implementing them into the suit itself. This can increase the time of people working to fight this virus and simultaneously reduce the risk of spreading the virus while taking off the PPE, as it simply does not happen that often.

Here are two possible technologies from the sports industry that can help the body cool down: One technology uses gel-packs, whereas the other enables reducing body temperature by initiating an endothermic reaction through polymer rings that absorb moisture.

http://www.mensjournal.com/gear/outdoor/the-shirt-that-cools-you-down-20130508
http://www.gizmag.com/icetee-shirt-temperature-cooling-gel/31353/

This can help to decrease the risk of spreading the virus by reducing the total number of times people take off the PPE.
 

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Photo of Rainer Winkler

Hi Tobias, did someone already measure or calculate the effect of this wests in a PPE in hot humid climate? The values the producers post, commonly suppose typical usage. Last for ... hours, but this depends on the details of temperature, heat production, cooling of the outside of the PPE.
The other question I have, what happens if the ice is exhausted, in that case the west has still a thermal insulation. How high is these? What does that mean if the worker is not able to replace the ice or not able to leave the PPE fast.
And thanks for posting and all the helpfull links, Rainer

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Photo of Rainer Winkler

I found a critical statement (http://www.ishn.com/articles/96103-facts-about-phase-change-material-cooling-vests), the author states that under a PPE the devices stay cool for typical 20 minutes. He also mentioned that if the cooling stops, the body becomes thermaly isolated, which could lead to further heating. He gave also an example for a cooling rate of 60W, and stated the heat produced by a human to range from 70 to 870W. So a typical PCM has not enough cooling capacity to absorb all heat of a human.

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Photo of Rainer Winkler

For those who want to google more (at scholar.google.com).
Keywords are micro-climate or microclimate cooling systems and protective clothing. There is a lot of literature.

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Photo of Tobias Schlipf

Hi Rainer,
Thanks for your great contribution!
To my knowledge there have not been any tests yet how long theses vests work under a PPE as they simply have never been used in this extreme environment. The examples of cooling vests I have posted last for one hour (which is not great), but when this technology is developed further and implicitly focussed on the PPE issue, I am certain that a good solution can be found. Maybe a solution without ice can be developed that works like a air condition cooling system.
It appears you have adequate knowledge about microclimate cooling systems whereas I just had an idea that's feasibility may be questionable. Further research is certainly needed to develop a technology that is suitable for the PPE's as the cooling vests have not enough cooling capacity like you pointed out. The links I have posted are just suggestions from the sport industry that are certainly not specialised in this case. They are just means to illustrate my idea to reduce the total amount of doffings which pose the highest risk of spreading the virus.

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Photo of Tobias Schlipf

You may find this contribution by a fellow member helpful who outlines the benefits of this technology when specifically used for PPE's.
https://openideo.com/challenge/fighting-ebola/ideas/cooling-vests-for-health-care-workers

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