Authors: Karel Roubík, Simon Walzel, Lenka Horakova, Alicia Refalo, Karel Sykora, Vaclav Ort, Ladislav Sieger
Roubik, K., Walzel, S., Horakova, L., Refalo, A., Sykora, K., Ort, V., Sieger, L. Materials suitable to simulate snow during breathing experiments for avalanche survival research. Clinician and Technology, Vol. 50, No. 1 (2020), pp. 32-39. DOI: https://doi.org/10.14311/CTJ.2020.1.05
Fulltext in PDF & fulltext download
Download fulltext in PDF here: Materials suitable to simulate snow during breathing experiments for avalanche survival research
Published in Clinician and Technology, 2020
Purpose: Terrain experiments for avalanche survival research require appropriate snow conditions, which may not be available year round. To prepare these experiments and test the protocol, it might be advantageous to test them in a laboratory with a snow model. The aim of the study was to find a material that can be used to simulate snow for studying gas exchange of a person covered with avalanche snow.
Materials and methods: Three loose porous materials (perlite, wood shavings and polystyrene) were tested in two forms—dry and moisturized. Each volunteer underwent six phases of the experiment in random order (three materials, each dry and moisturized) during experimental breathing into the tested materials. Physiological parameters and fractions of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the airways were recorded continuously.
Results: All the materials selected as possible models of the avalanche snow negatively affected gas exchange during the breathing of the volunteers in a very similar extent. The time courses of the recorded parameters were very similar and were bordered from one side by the wet perlite and from the other side by the dry perlite. Therefore, other tested materials may be substituted with perlite with an appropriate water content.
Conclusions: From all the tested materials, perlite is the best to simulate avalanche snow because of its homogeneity, reproducibility and easy manipulation.
 Page CH, Atkins D, Shockley L, Yaron M. Avalanche deaths in the United States: a 45-year analysis. Wilderness and Environ- mental Medicine. 1999;10:146–51.
 Jekich BM, Drake BD, Nacht JY, Nichols A, Ginde AA, Davis CB. Avalanche fatalities in the United States: a change in demo- graphics. Wilderness & environmental medicine. 2016 Mar 1; 27(1):46–52. DOI: 10.1016/j.wem.2015.11.004
 Boyd J, Haegeli P, Abu-Laban RB, Butt JC. Patterns of death among avalanche fatalities: a 21-year review. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2009;180(5):507–12. DOI:10.1503/cmaj.081327
 McIntosh SE, Grisom CK, Olivares CR, Tremper B. Cause of death in avalanche fatalities. Wilderness & Enviromental Medicine. 2007;18(4):293–7.
 Hohlrieder M, Brugger H, Schubert HM, Mair P. Pattern and severity of injury in avalanche victims. High Altitude Medicine & Biology. 2007;8(1):56–61. DOI: 10.1089/ham.2006.0815
 Falk M, Brugger H, Adler-Kastner L. Avalanche survival chances. Nature. 1994;368:21. DOI: 10.1038/368021a0
 Grissom CK, Radwin MI, Harmston CH, Hirshberg EL, Crowley TJ. Respiration during snow burial using an artificial air pocket. Jama. 2000;283(17):2261–71.
 Paal P, Strapazzon G, Braun P, Ellmauer PP, Schroeder DC, Suman G, et al. Factors affecting survival from avalanche burial–A randomised prospective porcine pilot study. Resuscitation. 2013;84(2):239–43. DOI: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2012.06.019
 Brugger H, Sumann G, Meister R, Adler-Kastner L, Mair P, Gunga HC. Hypoxia and hypercapnia during respiration into an artificial air pocket in the snow: implications for avalanche survival. Rescuscitation. 2003;58:81–8. DOI: 10.1016/s0300-9572(03)00113-8
 Strapazzon G, Paal P, Schweizer J, Falk M, Reuter B, Schenk K, Gatterer H, Grasegger K, Dal Cappello T, Malacrida S, Riess L. Effects of snow properties on humans breathing into an artificial air pocket–an experimental field study. Scientific reports. 2017; 7(1):17675. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-17960-4
 Radwin IM, Grisom CK, Scholand MB, Harmston CH. Normal Oxygenetation and Ventilation during Snow Burial by the Exclusion of Exhaled Carbon Dioxine. Wilderness Environ- mental & Medicine. 2001;12:256–62. DOI: 10.1580/1080-6032(2001)012[0256:noavds]2.0.co;2
 Ahn J, Headly M, Wahlen M, Brook EJ, Mayewski PA, Taylor KC. CO2 diffusion in polar ice: observations from naturally formed CO2 spikes in the Siple Dome (Antarctica) ice core. Journal of Glaciology [online]. 2008;54(187):685–95. DOI: 10.3189/002214308786570764
 Hemmingsen E. Permeation of Gases through Ice. Institute of Zoophysiology, University of Oslo (1958). Tellus 11, 355–9. DOI: 10.1111/j.2153-3490.1959.tb00041.x
 American Society of Anesthesiologists, INC. New Classifi- cation of Physical Status, Anesthesiology, 1963; 24: 111.
 Roubík K, Sieger L, Sykora K. Work of Breathing into Snow in the Presence versus Absence of an Artificial Air Pocket Affects Hypoxia and Hypercapnia of a Victim Covered with Avalanche Snow: A Randomized Double Blind Crossover Study. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(12):e0144332. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0144332
 Lumb AB. Nunn’s Applied Respiratory Physiology. 7th edition. Elsevier, 2012.