Volume and composition of hand sweat of white and black men and women in desert walks

D. B. Dill, M. K. Yousef, A. Goldman, S. D. Hillyard, T. P. Davis

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14 Scopus citations


Many investigators have sought, but failed to find, ethnic differences in the number and regional distribution of active sweat glands. In this study measurements have been made of sweat secreted on one hand and also on the whole body of Whites and Blacks walking in desert heat. Whites numbered 31 men and 27 women, ages 30 to 88 years; there were 21 Black men and 31 Black women, ages 16 to 61 years. Each walked on three occasions for 1 hour at a rate that required an oxygen consumption of about 40% of aerobic capacity. Ambient temperature ranged from 32 to 44°C in 1979 and 1980; means were 38.4°C in 1979 and 36.7°C in 1980. There was no sweat in the gloves of many Blacks; this was true of only a few Whites. Volume of body sweat increased in both races with rate of walking; volume of hand sweat increased more in Whites than in Blacks. The Mann‐Whitney test revealed that volumes of hand sweat were significantly greater for Whites than for Blacks. It was concluded that in desert walks most Whites and few Blacks sweat freely on their hands. In samples of hand sweat, Na+, K+, and Cl were determined. Concentrations of each ion varied widely in both races, and were unrelated to race. Concentrations of Na+ and Cl generally are somewhat higher in hand sweat than in body sweat; concentrations of K+ are much higher. It follows that the values for concentration of Na+ and Cl reported in Table 3 probably are somewhat higher than would have been found in body sweat, and concentrations of K+ are probably much higher.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-73
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1983


  • Chloride in body sweat vs. chloride in hand sweat
  • Sweat electrolytes
  • Volume of body sweat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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