This study compared the response of the wearable sensors tested against the industry-standard pressure transducers at blast overpressure (BOP) levels typically experienced in training. We systematically evaluated the effects of the sensor orientation with respect to the direction of the incident shock wave and demonstrated how the averaging methods affect the reported pressure values. The evaluated methods included averaging peak overpressure and impulse of all four sensors mounted on a helmet, taking the average of the three sensors, or isolating the incident pressure equivalent using two sensors. The experimental procedures were conducted in controlled laboratory conditions using the shock tube, and some of the findings were verified in field conditions with live fire charges during explosive breaching training. We used four different orientations (0, 90, 180, and 270) of the headform retrofitted with commonly fielded helmets (ACH, ECH, Ops-Core) with four B3 Blast Gauge sensors. We determined that averaging the peak overpressure values overestimates the actual dosage experienced by operators, which is caused by the reflected pressure contribution. This conclusion is valid despite the identified limitation of the B3 gauges that consistently underreport the peak reflected overpressure, compared to the industry-standard sensors. We also noted consistent overestimation of the impulse. These findings demonstrate that extreme caution should be exercised when interpreting occupational blast exposure results without knowing the orientation of the sensors. Pure numerical values without the geometrical, training-regime specific information such as the position of the sensors, the distance and orientation of the trainee to the source of the blast wave, and weapon system used will inevitably lead to erroneous estimation of the individual and cumulative blast overpressure (BOP) dosages. Considering that the 4 psi (~28 kPa) incident BOP is currently accepted as the threshold exposure safety value, a misinterpretation of exposure level may lead to an inaccurate estimation of BOP at the minimum standoff distance (MSD), or exclusion criteria.
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