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Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene. Vol. 12, Iss. 5, May 2015

Heat Index and Adjusted Temperature as Surrogates for Wet Bulb Globe Temperature to Screen for Occupational Heat Stress


Ambient temperature and relative humidity are readily ava-ilable and thus tempting metrics for heat stress assessment. Two methods of using air temperature and relative humidity to create an index are Heat Index and Adjusted Temperature. The purposes of this article are: (1) to examine how well Heat Index and Adjusted Temperature estimated the wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT) index, and (2) to suggest how Heat Index and Adjusted Temperature can be used to screen for heat stress level. Psychrometric relationships were used to estimate values of actual WBGT for conditions of air temperature, relative humidity, and radiant heat at an air speed of 0.5 m/s. A relationship between Heat Index [°F] and WBGT [°C] was described by WBGT = −0.0034 HI2 + 0.96 HI – 34. At lower Heat Index values, the equation estimated WBGTs that were ±2°C-WBGT around the actual value, and to about ±0.5°C-WBGT for Heat Index values > 100°F. A relationship between Adjusted Temperature [°F] and WBGT [°C] was described by WBGT = 0.45 Tadj – 16. The actual WBGT was between 1°C-WBGT below the estimated value and 1.4°C-WBGT above. That is, there was a slight bias toward overestimating WBGT from Adjusted Temperature. Heat stress screening tables were constructed for metabolic rates of 180, 300, and 450 W. The screening decisions were divided into four categories: (1) < alert limit, (2) < exposure limit, (3) hourly time-weighted averages (TWAs) of work and recovery, and (4) a caution zone for an exposure > exposure limit at rest. The authors do not recommend using Heat Index or Adjusted Temperature instead of WBGT, but they may be used to screen for circumstances when a more detailed analysis using WBGT is appropriate. A particular weakness is accounting for radiant heat; and neither air speed nor clothing was considered.


adjusted temperature, heat index, heat stress, WBGT

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