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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(3), 3304-3326; doi:10.3390/ijerph110303304
Article

Heat-Related Deaths in Hot Cities: Estimates of Human Tolerance to High Temperature Thresholds

1,* , 1
, 2
, 3
, 1
, 4
 and 5
1 School of Human Evolution & Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA 2 School of Mathematical & Statistical Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA 3 Department of Biomedical Informatics, Arizona State University, 13212 East Shea Boulevard, Scottsdale, AZ 85259, USA 4 Department of Engineering and Computing Systems, Polytechnic School, Arizona State University, 330M Peralta Hall, Mesa, AZ 85212, USA 5 Spatial Sciences Institute, University of Southern California, 3616 Trousdale Parkway, AHF B55, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 19 October 2013 / Revised: 7 March 2014 / Accepted: 7 March 2014 / Published: 20 March 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate Change and Human Health)
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Abstract

In this study we characterized the relationship between temperature and mortality in central Arizona desert cities that have an extremely hot climate. Relationships between daily maximum apparent temperature (ATmax) and mortality for eight condition-specific causes and all-cause deaths were modeled for all residents and separately for males and females ages <65 and ≥65 during the months May–October for years 2000–2008. The most robust relationship was between ATmax on day of death and mortality from direct exposure to high environmental heat. For this condition-specific cause of death, the heat thresholds in all gender and age groups (ATmax = 90–97 °F; 32.2‒36.1 °C) were below local median seasonal temperatures in the study period (ATmax = 99.5 °F; 37.5 °C). Heat threshold was defined as ATmax at which the mortality ratio begins an exponential upward trend. Thresholds were identified in younger and older females for cardiac disease/stroke mortality (ATmax = 106 and 108 °F; 41.1 and 42.2 °C) with a one-day lag. Thresholds were also identified for mortality from respiratory diseases in older people (ATmax = 109 °F; 42.8 °C) and for all-cause mortality in females (ATmax = 107 °F; 41.7 °C) and males <65 years (ATmax = 102 °F; 38.9 °C). Heat-related mortality in a region that has already made some adaptations to predictable periods of extremely high temperatures suggests that more extensive and targeted heat-adaptation plans for climate change are needed in cities worldwide.
Keywords: apparent temperature; climate; gender; heat-related deaths; hot climate; hot cities; temperature threshold apparent temperature; climate; gender; heat-related deaths; hot climate; hot cities; temperature threshold
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Harlan, S.L.; Chowell, G.; Yang, S.; Petitti, D.B.; Morales Butler, E.J.; Ruddell, B.L.; Ruddell, D.M. Heat-Related Deaths in Hot Cities: Estimates of Human Tolerance to High Temperature Thresholds. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 3304-3326.

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