We assessed whether increasing airflow with an electric fan is similarly effective as decreasing air temperature with air cooling (AC) in preventing heat-related reductions in productivity, and elevations in body temperatures and discomfort in a warm/humid indoor environment. In 48 experimental trials, we compared the reduction in the human heat stress response of sixteen participants during 135 min of intermittent arm ergometry at a fixed heart rate of 110 beats min −1 , from a simulated tropical environment (HOT; 30 °C, 70%RH; wind < 0.2 m s −1 ) to that observed with either a, (i) 7 °C reduction in air temperature (AC; 23 °C, 70%RH, wind < 0.2 m s −1 ); or (ii) facilitated airflow (FAN; 30 °C, 70%RH, wind = 4.2 m s −1 ). Cumulative work was similarly improved (+11%) by FAN compared to AC. Likewise, reductions in rectal temperature, thermal sensation, and thermal discomfort were similar with the two different cooling strategies. Sweat losses in the FAN trial were higher compared to AC but lower than HOT without fanning. In conclusion, fanning offers an effective method for alleviating thermal stress and preventing productivity losses for workers exposed to environmental heat. Moving air instead of chilling it may require a little more sweating, but it can save electricity and hence lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to AC.
- Energy conservation
- Occupational heat stress