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2019
Green, H, Bailey J, Schwarz L, Vanos J, Ebi K, Benmarhnia T.  2019.  Impact of heat on mortality and morbidity in low and middle income countries: A review of the epidemiological evidence and considerations for future research. Environmental Research. 171:80-91.   10.1016/j.envres.2019.01.010   AbstractWebsite

Heat waves and high air temperature are associated with increased morbidity and mortality. However, the majority of research conducted on this topic is focused on high income areas of the world. Although heat waves have the most severe impacts on vulnerable populations, relatively few studies have studied their impacts in low and middle income countries (LMICs). The aim of this paper is to review the existing evidence in the literature on the impact of heat on human health in LMICs. We identified peer-reviewed epidemiologic studies published in English between January 1980 and August 2018 investigating potential associations between high ambient temperature or heat waves and mortality or morbidity. We selected studies according to the following criteria: quantitative studies that used primary and/or secondary data and report effect estimates where ambient temperature or heat waves are the main exposure of interest in relation to human morbidity or mortality within LMICs. Of the total 146 studies selected, eighty-two were conducted in China, nine in other countries of East Asia and the Pacific, twelve in South Asia, ten in Sub-Saharan Africa, eight in the Middle East and North Africa, and seven in each of Latin America and Europe. The majority of studies (92.9%) found positive associations between heat and human morbidity/mortality. Additionally, while outcome variables and study design differed greatly, most utilized a time-series study design and examined overall heath related morbidity/mortality impacts in an entire population, although it is notable that the selected studies generally found that the elderly, women, and individuals within the low socioeconomic brackets were the most vulnerable to the effects of high temperature. By highlighting the existing evidence on the impact of extreme heat on health in LMICs, we hope to determine data needs and help direct future studies in addressing this knowledge gap. The focus on LMICs is justified by the lack of studies and data studying the health burden of higher temperatures in these regions even though LMICs have a lower capacity to adapt to high temperatures and thus an increased risk.

Hosokawa, Y, Casa DJ, Trtanj JM, Belval LN, Deuster PA, Giltz SM, Grundstein AJ, Hawkins MD, Huggins RA, Jacklitsch B, Jardine JF, Jones H, Kazman JB, Reynolds ME, Stearns RL, Vanos JK, Williams AL, Williams WJ.  2019.  Activity modification in heat: critical assessment of guidelines across athletic, occupational, and military settings in the USA. International Journal of Biometeorology. 63:405-427.   10.1007/s00484-019-01673-6   AbstractWebsite

Exertional heat illness (EHI) risk is a serious concern among athletes, laborers, and warfighters. US Governing organizations have established various activity modification guidelines (AMGs) and other risk mitigation plans to help ensure the health and safety of their workers. The extent of metabolic heat production and heat gain that ensue from their work are the core reasons for EHI in the aforementioned population. Therefore, the major focus of AMGs in all settings is to modulate the work intensity and duration with additional modification in adjustable extrinsic risk factors (e.g., clothing, equipment) and intrinsic risk factors (e.g., heat acclimatization, fitness, hydration status). Future studies should continue to integrate more physiological (e.g., valid body fluid balance, internal body temperature) and biometeorological factors (e.g., cumulative heat stress) to the existing heat risk assessment models to reduce the assumptions and limitations in them. Future interagency collaboration to advance heat mitigation plans among physically active population is desired to maximize the existing resources and data to facilitate advancement in AMGs for environmental heat.

Cakmak, S, Hebbern C, Vanos J, Crouse DL, Tjepkema M.  2019.  Exposure to traffic and mortality risk in the 1991-2011 Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohort (CanCHEC). Environment International. 124:16-24.   10.1016/j.envint.2018.12.045   AbstractWebsite

There is evidence that local traffic density and living near major roads can adversely affect health outcomes. We aimed to assess the relationship between local road length, proximity to primary highways, and cause-specific mortality in the 1991 Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohort (CanCHEC). In this long-term study of 2.6 million people, based on completion of the long-form census in 1991 and followed until 2011, we used annual residential addresses to determine the total length of local roads within 200m of postal code representative points and the postal code's distance to primary highways. The association between exposure to traffic and cause-specific non-accidental mortality was estimated using Cox proportional hazards models, adjusting for individual covariates and contextual factors, including census division-level proportion in high school, the percentage of recent immigrants, and neighborhood income. We performed sensitivity analyses, including adjustment for exposure to PM2.5, NO2, or O-3, restricting to subjects in core urban areas, and spatial variation by climatic zone. The hazard ratio (HR) for all non-accidental mortality associated with an interquartile increase in length of local roads was 1.05 (95% CI 1.04, 1.05), while for an interquartile range increase in proximity to primary highways, the HR was 1.03 (95% CI 1.02, 1.04). HRs by traffic quartile increased with increasing lengths of local roads, as well as with closer proximity to primary highways, for all mortality causes. The associations were stronger within subjects' resident in urban core areas, attenuated by adjustment for PM2.5, and HRs showed limited spatial variation by climatic zone. In the CanCHEC cohort, exposure to higher road density and proximity to major traffic roads was associated with increased mortality risk from cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, COPD, respiratory disease, and lung cancer, with unclear results for diabetes.

2018
Kalkstein, AJ, Kalkstein LS, Vanos JK, Eisenman DP, Dixon PG.  2018.  Heat/mortality sensitivities in Los Angeles during winter: a unique phenomenon in the United States. Environmental Health. 17   10.1186/s12940-018-0389-7   AbstractWebsite

Background: Extreme heat is often associated with elevated levels of human mortality, particularly across the mid-latitudes. Los Angeles, CA exhibits a unique, highly variable winter climate, with brief periods of intense heat caused by downsloping winds commonly known as Santa Ana winds. The goal is to determine if Los Angeles County is susceptible to heat-related mortality during the winter season. This is the first study to specifically evaluate heatrelated mortality during the winter for a U.S. city. Methods: Utilizing the Spatial Synoptic Classification system in Los Angeles County from 1979 through 2010, we first relate daily human mortality to synoptic air mass type during the winter season (December, January, February) using Welch's t-tests. However, this methodology is only somewhat effective at controlling for important inter-and intra-annual trends in human mortality unrelated to heat such as influenza outbreaks. As a result, we use distributed lag nonlinear modeling (DLNM) to evaluate if the relative risk of human mortality increases during higher temperatures in Los Angeles, as the DLNM is more effective at controlling for variability at multiple temporal scales within the human mortality dataset. Results: Significantly higher human mortality is uncovered in winter when dry tropical air is present in Los Angeles, particularly among those 65 years and older (p < 0.001). The DLNM reveals the relative risk of human mortality increases when above average temperatures are present. Results are especially pronounced for maximum and mean temperatures, along with total mortality and those 65 +. Conclusions: The discovery of heat-related mortality in winter is a unique finding in the United States, and we recommend stakeholders consider warning and intervention techniques to mitigate the role of winter heat on human health in the County.

2017
Graham, DA, Vanos JK, Kenny NA, Brown RD.  2017.  Modeling the Effects of Urban Design on Emergency Medical Response Calls during Extreme Heat Events in Toronto, Canada. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 14   10.3390/ijerph14070778   AbstractWebsite

Urban residents are at risk of health-related illness during extreme heat events but the dangers are not equal in all parts of a city. Previous studies have found a relationship between physical characteristics of neighborhoods and the number of emergency medical response (EMR) calls. We used a human energy budget model to test the effects of landscape modifications that are designed to cool the environment on the expected number of EMR calls in two neighborhoods in Toronto, Canada during extreme heat events. The cooling design strategies reduced the energy overload on people by approximately 20-30 W m(-2), resulting in an estimated 40-50% reduction in heat-related ambulance calls. These findings advance current understanding of the relationship between the urban landscape and human health and suggest straightforward design strategies to positively influence urban heat-health.