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2019
Benmarhnia, T, Zhao X, Wang J, Macdonald M, Chen H.  2019.  Evaluating the potential public health impacts of the Toronto cold weather program. Environment International. 127:381-386.   10.1016/j.envint.2019.03.042   AbstractWebsite

Background: Extreme cold weather alert programs have been implemented in some areas to address the significant health impacts of exposure to cold. One such program is the Toronto Cold Weather Program (TCWP) that was implemented in the City of Toronto since 1996 to protect the public from extreme weather conditions. In this paper, we aim to evaluate the effectiveness of the TCWP in reducing mortality and morbidity outcomes related to cold temperatures. Methods: We applied a quasi-experimental study design using the Difference-in-Differences method coupled with propensity-score-matching to determine the effect of the TCMP on daily hospitalizations and deaths due to cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD) or cerebrovascular disease, using two complementary analytical approaches. Results: Overall, the analysis did not detect an impact on reduced mortality/morbidity in the City of Toronto from the TCMP. For example, we obtained a Risk Difference (RD) of -0.88 (per 1,000,000 people) (95% CI: -3.27 to 1.51) and a Risk Ratio (RR) of 0.98 (95% CI: 0.91 to 1.05) people for CVD hospitalizations. Conclusions: The TCWP was not found to be effective in reducing cold related mortality and morbidity which demonstrates the importance of improving existing policies related to cold in Canada and other countries.

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.

2018
Schinasi, LH, Benmarhnia T, De Roos AJ.  2018.  Modification of the association between high ambient temperature and health by urban microclimate indicators: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Environmental Research. 161:168-180.   10.1016/j.envres.2017.11.004   AbstractWebsite

Background: Landscape characteristics, including vegetation and impervious surfaces, influence urban micro climates and may lead to within-city differences in the adverse health effects of high ambient temperatures. Objective: Our objective was to quantitatively summarize the epidemiologic literature that assessed microclimate indicators as effect measure modifiers (EMM) of the association between ambient temperature and mortality or morbidity. Methods: We systematically identified papers and abstracted relative risk estimates for hot and cool micro climate indicator strata. We calculated the ratio of the relative risks (RRR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) to assess differences in health effects across strata, and pooled the RRR estimates using random effects meta analyses. Results: Eleven papers were retained. In the pooled analyses, people living in hotter areas within cities (based on land surface temperature or modeled estimates of air temperature) had 6% higher risk of mortality/morbidity compared to those in cooler areas (95% CI: 1.03-1.09). Those living in less vegetated areas had 5% higher risk compared to those living in more vegetated areas (95% CI: 1.00-1.11). Discussion: There is epidemiologic evidence that those living in hotter, and less vegetated areas of cities have higher risk of morbidity or mortality from higher ambient temperature. Further research with improved assessment of landscape characteristics and investigation of the joint effects of physiologic adaptation and landscape will advance the current understanding. Conclusion: This review provides quantitative evidence that intra-urban differences in landscape characteristics and micro-urban heat islands contribute to within-city variability in the health effects of high ambient temperatures.

2015
Benmarhnia, T, Auger N, Stanislas V, Lo E, Kaufman JS.  2015.  The relationship between apparent temperature and daily number of live births in Montreal. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 19:2548-2551.   10.1007/s10995-015-1794-y   AbstractWebsite

Temperature is a hypothesized determinant of early delivery, but seasonal and long term trends, delayed effects of temperature, and the influence of extreme cold temperatures have not yet been addressed. We aim to study the influence of apparent temperature on daily number of births, considering lag structures, seasonality and long term trends.We used daily number of births in conjunction with apparent outdoor temperatures between 1981 and 2010 in Montreal. We used Poisson regression combined with a distributed lag nonlinear model to consider non-linear relationships between temperature and daily number of births across specific lag periods.We found that apparent temperature was associated with the daily number of births in Montreal, with a 1-day delay. We found an increase in births on hot days, and decrease on cold days, both offset by a harvesting effect after 4 and 5 days.This study suggests that the number of births is affected by extreme temperatures. Obstetric and perinatal service providers should be prepared for spikes in the number of births caused by extreme temperatures.

2014
Benmarhnia, T, Oulhote Y, Petit C, Lapostolle A, Chauvin P, Zmirou-Navier D, Deguen S.  2014.  Chronic air pollution and social deprivation as modifiers of the association between high temperature and daily mortality. Environmental Health. 13   Artn 5310.1186/1476-069x-13-53   AbstractWebsite

Background: Heat and air pollution are both associated with increases in mortality. However, the interactive effect of temperature and air pollution on mortality remains unsettled. Similarly, the relationship between air pollution, air temperature, and social deprivation has never been explored.Methods: We used daily mortality data from 2004 to 2009, daily mean temperature variables and relative humidity, for Paris, France. Estimates of chronic exposure to air pollution and social deprivation at a small spatial scale were calculated and split into three strata. We developed a stratified Poisson regression models to assess daily temperature and mortality associations, and tested the heterogeneity of the regression coefficients of the different strata. Deaths due to ambient temperature were calculated from attributable fractions and mortality rates were estimated.Results: We found that chronic air pollution exposure and social deprivation are effect modifiers of the association between daily temperature and mortality. We found a potential interactive effect between social deprivation and chronic exposure with regards to air pollution in the mortality-temperature relationship.Conclusion: Our results may have implications in considering chronically polluted areas as vulnerable in heat action plans and in the long-term measures to reduce the burden of heat stress especially in the context of climate change.