Special Issue "Extreme Weather Events and Health"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Climate Change and Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Ying Zhang
Website
Guest Editor
School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney 2006, Australia
Climate Change and Health Center, Shandong University, 44 West Wenhua Road, Jinan 250012, China
Interests: climate change; weather extremes; public health; sustainability; community resilience
Prof. Budi Haryanto
Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Public Health and Research Center for Climate Change, University of Indonesia
Interests: climate change; air pollution; environmental epidemiology; human health vulnerability; children’s environmental health; chemical pollutant effects

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Extreme weather events are weather events that are significantly different from the usual weather pattern, based on local historical distribution seen in the past. According to the latest IPCC Assessment Report, changing patterns of climate will bring more frequent and severe extreme weather events, leading to more burden of disease. However, research on extreme weather events and health, including the impacts, mechanisms and responses, is still limited, especially in low-resource settings where people are most vulnerable. We call for studies that address this global challenge. We aim to provide more evidence to public health policies and interventions that could reduce health risks associated with extreme weather events. We welcome your submissions, especially research on low-resource settings.

Topics of interest in the Special Issue include (but are not limited to):

  • Extreme temperatures and health
  • Floods/draughts and health
  • Hurricanes, severe storms and health
  • Bushfires, haze and health
  • Multi-hazard analysis
  • Vulnerability, and its social and cultural determinants
  • Public health emergency responses to extremes weather events
  • Community resilience to extreme weather events
  • Adaptation and mitigation to reduce the health risks from extreme weather events
  • Health promotion and education
  • Health policy

Dr. Ying Zhang
Prof. Budi Haryanto
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • extreme weather events
  • public health
  • community resillience
  • vulnerability
  • health policy
  • health promotion

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
The Use of a Quasi-Experimental Study on the Mortality Effect of a Heat Wave Warning System in Korea
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(12), 2245; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16122245 - 25 Jun 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Many cities and countries have implemented heat wave warning systems to combat the health effects of extreme heat. Little is known about whether these systems actually reduce heat-related morbidity and mortality. We examined the effectiveness of heat wave alerts and health plans in [...] Read more.
Many cities and countries have implemented heat wave warning systems to combat the health effects of extreme heat. Little is known about whether these systems actually reduce heat-related morbidity and mortality. We examined the effectiveness of heat wave alerts and health plans in reducing the mortality risk of heat waves in Korea by utilizing the discrepancy between the alerts and the monitored temperature. A difference-in-differences analysis combined with propensity score weighting was used. Mortality, weather monitoring, and heat wave alert announcement data were collected for 7 major cities during 2009–2014. Results showed evidence of risk reduction among people aged 19–64 without education (−0.144 deaths/1,000,000 people, 95% CI: −0.227, −0.061) and children aged 0–19 (−0.555 deaths/1,000,000 people, 95% CI: −0.993, −0.117). Decreased cardiovascular and respiratory mortality was found in several subgroups including single persons, widowed people, blue-collar workers, people with no education or the highest level of education (university or higher). No evidence was found for decreased all-cause mortality in the population (1.687 deaths/1,000,000 people per day; 95% CI: 1.118, 2.255). In conclusion, heat wave alerts may reduce mortality for several causes and subpopulations of age and socio-economic status. Further work needs to examine the pathways through which the alerts impact subpopulations differently. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Weather Events and Health)
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Open AccessArticle
A Survey of Rural Residents’ Perception and Response to Health Risks from Hot Weather in Ethnic Minority Areas in Southwest China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(12), 2190; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16122190 - 21 Jun 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Ethnic minority areas in southwestern China are facing frequent high-temperature heatwaves. The health risk perceptions and responses of the local residents need to be investigated in order to formulate public policies to mitigate the impacts of climate change on health. In this study, [...] Read more.
Ethnic minority areas in southwestern China are facing frequent high-temperature heatwaves. The health risk perceptions and responses of the local residents need to be investigated in order to formulate public policies to mitigate the impacts of climate change on health. In this study, a household survey was conducted in Pengshui Miao and Tujia Autonomous County of Chongqing from January to February 2019. A total of 624 local residents were sampled using the multi-stage sampling method. We used multivariate logistic regression models to explore the factors affecting risk perceptions and responses with regard to hot weather. The results showed that despite a relatively high level of risk perception, the study population had a very low level of willingness to see a doctor (24.4%), especially ethnic minority residents (17.5%). In particular, 80% of residents were aware of climate warming and 79% of residents were aware of the health risks of hot weather. Almost all survey participants reported a response to hot weather, with more than half of the participants stating that they would go somewhere cooler (58.5%) and drink more water (56.3%). Compared with the Han Chinese, ethnic minority participants had a higher perception of warm temperature (p <0.001) and associated health risks (p <0.001) but a lower perception of physical discomfort (p <0.001) and aggravated diseases (p = 0.001). The logistic models indicated that ethnic minority, residence time, outdoor working hours, and health status can significantly influence perceptions and subsequently significantly affect coping behaviors. In conclusion, our findings provide significant implications for the development of policies and health education and promotion programs for ethnic minorities in southwest China to aid them in maintaining good health during future hot weather events. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Weather Events and Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluating the Risk of Epidemic Thunderstorm Asthma: Lessons from Australia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(5), 837; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16050837 - 07 Mar 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Epidemic thunderstorm asthma (ETA) is an emerging public health threat in Australia, highlighted by the 2016 event in Melbourne, Victoria, that overwhelmed health services and caused loss of life. However, there is limited understanding of the regional variations in risk. We evaluated the [...] Read more.
Epidemic thunderstorm asthma (ETA) is an emerging public health threat in Australia, highlighted by the 2016 event in Melbourne, Victoria, that overwhelmed health services and caused loss of life. However, there is limited understanding of the regional variations in risk. We evaluated the public health risk of ETA in the nearby state of Tasmania by quantifying the frequency of potential ETA episodes and applying a standardized natural disaster risk assessment framework. Using a case–control approach, we analyzed emergency presentations in Tasmania’s public hospitals from 2002 to 2017. Cases were defined as days when asthma presentations exceeded four standard deviations from the mean, and controls as days when asthma presentations were less than one standard deviation from the mean. Four controls were randomly selected for each case. Independently, a meteorologist identified the dates of potential high-risk thunderstorm events. No case days coincided with thunderstorms during the study period. ETA was assessed as a very low risk to the Tasmanian population, with these findings informing risk prioritization and resource allocation. This approach may be scaled and applied in other settings to determine local ETA risk. Furthermore, the identification of hazards using this method allows for critical analysis of existing public health systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Weather Events and Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Building Back Better: Local Health Department Engagement and Integration of Health Promotion into Hurricane Harvey Recovery Planning and Implementation
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(3), 299; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16030299 - 23 Jan 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Disaster recovery provides an opportunity to build healthier and more resilient communities. However, opportunities and challenges encountered by local health departments (LHDs) when integrating health considerations into recovery have yet to be explored. Following Hurricane Harvey, 17 local health and emergency management officials [...] Read more.
Disaster recovery provides an opportunity to build healthier and more resilient communities. However, opportunities and challenges encountered by local health departments (LHDs) when integrating health considerations into recovery have yet to be explored. Following Hurricane Harvey, 17 local health and emergency management officials from 10 agencies in impacted Texas, USA jurisdictions were interviewed to describe the types and level of LHD engagement in disaster recovery planning and implementation and the extent to which communities leveraged recovery to build healthier, more resilient communities. Interviews were conducted between December 2017 and January 2018 and focused on if and how their communities were incorporating public health considerations into the visioning, planning, implementation, and assessment phases of disaster recovery. Using a combined inductive and deductive approach, we thematically analyzed interview notes and/or transcripts. LHDs reported varied levels of engagement and participation in activities to support their community’s recovery. However, we found that LHDs rarely articulated or informed decision makers about the health impacts of recovery activities undertaken by other sectors. LHDs would benefit from additional resources, support, and technical assistance designed to facilitate working across sectors and building resilience during recovery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Weather Events and Health)
Open AccessArticle
Influence of Heat Waves on Daily Hospital Visits for Mental Illness in Jinan, China—A Case-Crossover Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(1), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16010087 - 30 Dec 2018
Cited by 6
Abstract
Background: Given that more frequent and intensive extreme heat events have been projected based on climate change modeling, it is of significance to have a better understanding of the association between heat waves and mental illnesses. This study aimed to explore the effects [...] Read more.
Background: Given that more frequent and intensive extreme heat events have been projected based on climate change modeling, it is of significance to have a better understanding of the association between heat waves and mental illnesses. This study aimed to explore the effects of heat waves on daily hospital visits for mental illness in the summer of 2010 in Jinan, China. Methods: A symmetric bidirectional case-crossover study was firstly conducted to determine the relationship between daily hospital visits for mental illness and heat waves in Jinan in 2010. Multifactor logistic regression analysis was then used to analyze the influencing factors for daily hospital visits for mental illness during the heat wave periods. Results: Multivariable analysis showed that the heat wave events were associated with an increased risk of mental illness. The largest odds ratios (ORs) of the heat waves for daily hospital visits for mental illness were 2.231 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.436–3.466) at a 3-day lag, 2.836 (95% CI: 1.776–4.525) at a 2-day lag, 3.178 (95% CI: 1.995–5.064) at a 3-day lag, and 2.988 (95% CI: 2.158–4.140) at a 2-day lag for the first, second, third, and fourth heat waves, respectively. The elderly, urban residents, outdoor workers, and singles may be high-risk populations for developing heat wave-related mental illness. Conclusions: Our study has supported that there is a positive association between heat waves and hospital visits for mental illness in the study site. Age, home address, occupation, and marital status were associated with daily hospital visits for mental illness during the heat wave periods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Weather Events and Health)
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Open AccessArticle
“We’re Just Sitting Ducks”: Recurrent Household Flooding as An Underreported Environmental Health Threat in Detroit’s Changing Climate
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16010006 - 20 Dec 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Recurrent inland urban flooding is an understudied phenomenon that warrants greater attention, particularly in post-industrial cities where aging infrastructure, disinvestment, and climate change threaten public health. We conducted semi-structured interviews in 2017–2018 with 18 Detroit residents experiencing recurrent household flooding. We used standard [...] Read more.
Recurrent inland urban flooding is an understudied phenomenon that warrants greater attention, particularly in post-industrial cities where aging infrastructure, disinvestment, and climate change threaten public health. We conducted semi-structured interviews in 2017–2018 with 18 Detroit residents experiencing recurrent household flooding. We used standard qualitative coding analysis to generate 30 theoretically- and in vivo- derived themes related to flood experience, socioeconomic and health factors, and household, community, and policy interventions for reducing environmental exposures before, during, and after flood events. Snowball sampling yielded interviewees across both high- and low-risk areas for flood events, indicating vulnerability may be widespread and undocumented in formal ways. Residents described exposure to diverse risk factors for chronic and infectious diseases, particularly for seniors and young children, and emphasized stressors associated with repeated economic loss and uncertainty. Opinions varied on the adequacy, responsibility, and equity of local and federal relief funding and programs. We expand knowledge of flood-related vulnerability, offer innovative suggestions for risk communication based on residents’ experiences, and recommend additional research for documenting patterns of recurrent flooding and response, even for precipitation events that are not characterized as extreme or disaster-level in the media or by agencies. These findings should guide local public health, emergency preparedness, sustainability, water and sewage, and community leaders in post-industrial cities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Weather Events and Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Aging in Flood-Prone Coastal Areas: Discerning the Health and Well-Being Risk for Older Residents
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(12), 2900; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15122900 - 18 Dec 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Coastal communities are increasingly exposed to more intense and frequent hurricanes, accelerated sea-level rise, and prolonged tidal inundation, yet they are often a preferred retirement destination for older adults vulnerable to flooding and extreme weather events. The unique physical and psychosocial challenges of [...] Read more.
Coastal communities are increasingly exposed to more intense and frequent hurricanes, accelerated sea-level rise, and prolonged tidal inundation, yet they are often a preferred retirement destination for older adults vulnerable to flooding and extreme weather events. The unique physical and psychosocial challenges of older population age 65 and over may affect their level of preparedness, capacity to cope with, and ability to respond and recover from a hazard event. Despite the clear vulnerabilities of older residents living in high-risk areas when compared to younger coastal populations, there is a lack of empirical research on the integrated flood risks to this population group in the coastal context. This paper provides a holistic assessment of this emerging problem along the U.S. East Coast by measuring the exposure of older population to sea level rise and storm surge in coastal counties. It further evaluates how age-related vulnerabilities differ between rural and urban settings using the case study approach and geospatial and statistical analysis the paper also conducts a review of scientific literature to identify gaps in the current understanding of health and well-being risks to aging populations in coastal communities. The results show that older populations are unevenly distributed along the U.S. East Coast with some states and counties having significantly higher percent of residents age 65 and older living along the shoreline. Many places with larger older populations have other attributes that further shape the vulnerability of this age group such as older housing stock, disabilities, and lower income and that often differ between rural and urban settings. Lastly, our study found that vast majority of research on aging in high-risk coastal locations has been conducted in relation to major disasters and almost none on the recurrent nuisance flooding that is already affecting many coastal communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Weather Events and Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Mapping Multi-Disease Risk during El Niño: An Ecosyndemic Approach
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(12), 2639; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15122639 - 25 Nov 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
El Niño is a quasi-periodic pattern of climate variability and extremes often associated with hazards and disease. While El Niño links to individual diseases have been examined, less is known about the cluster of multi-disease risk referred to as an ecosyndemic, which emerges [...] Read more.
El Niño is a quasi-periodic pattern of climate variability and extremes often associated with hazards and disease. While El Niño links to individual diseases have been examined, less is known about the cluster of multi-disease risk referred to as an ecosyndemic, which emerges during extreme events. The objective of this study was to explore a mapping approach to represent the spatial distribution of ecosyndemics in Piura, Peru at the district-level during the first few months of 1998. Using geographic information systems and multivariate analysis, descriptive and analytical methodologies were employed to map disease overlap of 7 climate-sensitive diseases and construct an ecosyndemic index, which was then mapped and applied to another El Niño period as proof of concept. The main findings showed that many districts across Piura faced multi-disease risk over several weeks in the austral summer of 1998. The distribution of ecosyndemics were spatially clustered in western Piura among 11 districts. Furthermore, the ecosydemic index in 1998 when compared to 1983 showed a strong positive correlation, demonstrating the potential utility of the index. The study supports PAHO efforts to develop multi-disease based and interprogrammatic approaches to control and prevention, particularly for climate and poverty-related infections in Latin America and the Caribbean. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Weather Events and Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Perceptions of Health Risks from Hot Weather, and Coping Behaviors among Ethnic Minority Groups in Mountain Areas of China: A Case Study in the Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(11), 2498; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15112498 - 08 Nov 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Limited research focuses on risk perceptions of hot weather among ethnic minority groups in remote mountain areas of China. Adopting a multi-stage sampling method, this study received completed questionnaires from 643 participates in Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture of China in 2017 [...] Read more.
Limited research focuses on risk perceptions of hot weather among ethnic minority groups in remote mountain areas of China. Adopting a multi-stage sampling method, this study received completed questionnaires from 643 participates in Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture of China in 2017 and 2018. We used multivariate logistic regression models to explore the factors affecting risk perceptions and coping behaviors with regards to hot weather. Results showed that despite a relatively high level of risk perception, the study population in the mountain areas of China had a very low level of preparedness in responding to the risks from heat, and a lack of professional health knowledge in general. In particular, 61.3% (95% CI: 57.1%−5.6%) of the participants felt increasing temperatures in recent years, 73.2% (95% CI: 69.3%−7.0%) thought extreme high temperatures would be a health threat, and 61.3% (95% CI: 57.1%−5.4%) reported physical discomfort during hot weather. However, only 12% (95% CI: 9.5%−4.5%) had the information or knowledge to stay healthy during the extreme high temperatures, and only 24.2% had (95% CI: 20.8%−7.6%) preparation. The logistic regression models suggested that ethnic group, health status, marital status, gender, and employment could affect their perceptions, which could significantly affect the adoption of coping behaviors. In conclusion, our findings have significant implications for developing policies and health education and promotion programs for ethnic minorities in remote regions to maintain good health during hot weather. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Weather Events and Health)
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Open AccessArticle
An Assessment of the Relationships between Extreme Weather Events, Vulnerability, and the Impacts on Human Wellbeing in Latin America
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(9), 1802; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15091802 - 21 Aug 2018
Cited by 13
Abstract
Climate change and variability are known to have an influence on human wellbeing in a variety of ways. In Latin America, such forces are especially conspicuous, particularly in respect of extreme climatological, hydrological, and weather events (EWEs) and climate-sensitive disasters (CSDs). Consistent with [...] Read more.
Climate change and variability are known to have an influence on human wellbeing in a variety of ways. In Latin America, such forces are especially conspicuous, particularly in respect of extreme climatological, hydrological, and weather events (EWEs) and climate-sensitive disasters (CSDs). Consistent with the need to study further such connections, this paper presents an analysis of some of the vulnerabilities of environmental health issues and climate-related impacts that are focusing on EWEs and CSDs in Latin American countries. The research includes an analysis of the (i) human and socio-economic development; (ii) geographical and socio-economic determinants of vulnerability and adaptability of environmental health issues (exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity); (iii) occurrence of CSDs from 1988 to 2017 and their direct impacts on human wellbeing (Total death and Affected people); (iv) an online survey on the perceptions of the effects of EWEs on human wellbeing in a sample of countries in the region; and (v) discussion of possible solutions. The socio-economic and development indices, and the International Disaster Database (EM-DAT) and Climate-Risk Index (CRI) disaster statistics suggest that the impacts of CSDs are primarily related to socio-economic determinants of human wellbeing and health inequalities. Also, >80% respondents to the survey say that the leading causes of climate-related human impacts are the lack of (i) public awareness; (ii) investment and (iii) preparedness. The paper concludes by adding some suggestions that show how countries in Latin America may better cope with the impacts of Climate-sensitive Disasters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Weather Events and Health)
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of an Automated Phone Warning and Health Advisory System on Adaptation to High Heat Episodes and Health Services Use in Vulnerable Groups—Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(8), 1581; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15081581 - 25 Jul 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Automated phone warning systems are increasingly used by public health authorities to protect the population from the adverse effects of extreme heat but little is known about their performance. To fill this gap, this article reports the result of a study on the [...] Read more.
Automated phone warning systems are increasingly used by public health authorities to protect the population from the adverse effects of extreme heat but little is known about their performance. To fill this gap, this article reports the result of a study on the impact of an automated phone heat warning system on adaptation behaviours and health services use. A sample of 1328 individuals vulnerable to heat was constituted for this purpose and participants were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. The day before a heat episode, a phone heat warning was sent to the treatment group. Data were obtained through two surveys before and one survey after the heat warning issuance. The results show that members of the treatment group were more aware of how to protect themselves from heat and more likely to adopt the recommended behaviours. Moreover, a much smaller proportion of women in this group used the health-care system compared to the control group. Thus, the exposure to an automated phone warning seems to improve the adaptation to heat and reduce the use of health services by some important at-risk groups. This method can thus be used to complement public health interventions aimed at reducing heat-related health risks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Extreme Weather Events and Health)
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