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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.

Benmarhnia, T, Delpla I, Schwarz L, Rodriguez MJ, Levallois P.  2018.  Heterogeneity in the relationship between disinfection by-products in drinking water and cancer: A systematic review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 15   10.3390/ijerph15050979   AbstractWebsite

The epidemiological evidence demonstrating the effect of disinfection by-products (DBPs) from drinking water on colon and rectal cancers is well documented. However, no systematic assessment has been conducted to assess the potential effect measure modification (EMM) in the relationship between DBPs and cancer. The objective of this paper is to conduct a systematic literature review to determine the extent to which EMM has been assessed in the relationship between DBPs in drinking water in past epidemiological studies. Selected articles (n = 19) were reviewed, and effect estimates and covariates that could have been used in an EMM assessment were gathered. Approximately half of the studies assess EMM (n = 10), but the majority of studies only estimate it relative to sex subgroups (n = 6 for bladder cancer and n = 2 both for rectal and colon cancers). Although EMM is rarely assessed, several variables that could have a potential modification effect are routinely collected in these studies, such as socioeconomic status or age. The role of environmental exposures through drinking water can play an important role and contribute to cancer disparities. We encourage a systematic use of subgroup analysis to understand which populations or territories are more vulnerable to the health impacts of DBPs.

Benmarhnia, T, Deguen S, Kaufman JS, Smargiassi A.  2015.  Vulnerability to heat-related mortality a systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression analysis. Epidemiology. 26:781-793.   10.1097/EDE.0000000000000375   AbstractWebsite

Background: Addressing vulnerability to heat-related mortality is a necessary step in the development of policies dictated by heat action plans. We aimed to provide a systematic assessment of the epidemiologic evidence regarding vulnerability to heat-related mortality.Methods: Studies assessing the association between high ambient temperature or heat waves and mortality among different subgroups and published between January 1980 and August 2014 were selected. Estimates of association for all the included subgroups were extracted. We assessed the presence of heterogeneous effects between subgroups conducting Cochran Q tests. We conducted random effect meta-analyses of ratios of relative risks (RRR) for high ambient temperature studies. We performed random effects meta-regression analyses to investigate factors associated with the magnitude of the RRR.Results: Sixty-one studies were included. Using the Cochran Q test, we consistently found evidence of vulnerability for the elderly ages >85 years. We found a pooled RRR of 0.99 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.97, 1.01) for male sex, 1.02 (95% CI = 1.01, 1.03) for age >65 years, 1.04 (95% CI = 1.02, 1.07) for ages >75 years, 1.03 (95% CI = 1.01, 1.05) for low individual socioeconomic status (SES), and 1.01 (95% CI = 0.99, 1.02) for low ecologic SES.Conclusions: We found strongest evidence of heat-related vulnerability for the elderly ages >65 and >75 years and low SES groups (at the individual level). Studies are needed to clarify if other subgroups (e.g., children, people living alone) are also vulnerable to heat to inform public health programs.

Delpla, I, Benmarhnia T, Lebel A, Levallois P, Rodriguez MJ.  2015.  Investigating social inequalities in exposure to drinking water contaminants in rural areas. Environmental Pollution. 207:88-96.   10.1016/j.envpol.2015.08.046   AbstractWebsite

Few studies have assessed social inequalities in exposure to drinking water contaminants. This study explores this issue in 593 rural municipalities of Quebec, Canada. Quartiles of an ecological composite deprivation index were used as a proxy of socioeconomic status. Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and lead were chosen as proxies of chemical drinking water quality. The results show that the majority of deprived rural municipalities apply no treatment to their water (26%) or use a basic treatment (51%), whereas a relative majority of the wealthiest municipalities (40%) use advanced treatment. The proportion of municipalities having important lead (>5 mu g/L) levels is highest in most deprived municipalities. Moreover, most deprived municipalities have a higher risk of high tap lead levels (RR = 1.33; 95% Cl: 1.30, 1.36). Conversely, most deprived municipalities have a lower risk of high TTHMs levels (RR = 0.78; 95%CI: 0.69, 0.86). These findings suggest an environmental inequality in drinking water contaminants distribution in rural municipalities. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Benmarhnia, T, Sottile MF, Plante C, Brand A, Casati B, Fournier M, Smargiassi A.  2014.  Variability in Temperature-Related Mortality Projections under Climate Change. Environmental Health Perspectives. 122:1293-1298.   10.1289/ehp.1306954   AbstractWebsite

Background: Most studies that have assessed impacts on mortality of future temperature increases have relied on a small number of simulations and have not addressed the variability and sources of uncertainty in their mortality projections.Objectives: We assessed the variability of temperature projections and dependent future mortality distributions, using a large panel of temperature simulations based on different climate models and emission scenarios.Methods: We used historical data from 1990 through 2007 for Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and Poisson regression models to estimate relative risks (RR) for daily nonaccidental mortality in association with three different daily temperature metrics (mean, minimum, and maximum temperature) during June through August. To estimate future numbers of deaths attributable to ambient temperatures and the uncertainty of the estimates, we used 32 different simulations of daily temperatures for June-August 2020-2037 derived from three global climate models (GCMs) and a Canadian regional climate model with three sets of RRs (one based on the observed historical data, and two on bootstrap samples that generated the 95% CI of the attributable number (AN) of deaths). We then used analysis of covariance to evaluate the influence of the simulation, the projected year, and the sets of RRs used to derive the attributable numbers of deaths.Results: We found that < 1% of the variability in the distributions of simulated temperature for June-August of 2020-2037 was explained by differences among the simulations. Estimated ANs for 2020-2037 ranged from 34 to 174 per summer (i.e., June-August). Most of the variability in mortality projections (38%) was related to the temperature-mortality RR used to estimate the ANs.Conclusions: The choice of the RR estimate for the association between temperature and mortality may be important to reduce uncertainty in mortality projections.