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Mapping Heat Health Risks in Urban Areas

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      Abstract

      Periods of extreme heat pose a risk to the health of individuals, especially the elderly, the very young, and the chronically ill. Risk factors include housing characteristics, and socioeconomic factors, or environmental risk factors such as urban heat islands. This study developed an index of population vulnerability in an urban setting using known environmental, demographic, and health-related risk factors for heat stress. The spatial variations in risk factors were correlated with spatial variation in heat-related health outcomes in urban Melbourne. The index was weighted using measured health outcomes during heatwave periods. The index was then mapped to produce a spatial representation of risk. The key risk factors were identified as areas with aged care facilities, higher proportions of older people living alone, living in suburban rather than inner city areas, and areas with larger proportions of people who spoke a language other than English at home. The maps of spatial vulnerability provide information to target heat-related health risks by aiding policy advisors, urban planners, healthcare professionals, and ancillary services to develop heatwave preparedness plans at a local scale.

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      Social Vulnerability to Environmental Hazards*

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        Climate change and human health: present and future risks.

        There is near unanimous scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity will change Earth's climate. The recent (globally averaged) warming by 0.5 degrees C is partly attributable to such anthropogenic emissions. Climate change will affect human health in many ways-mostly adversely. Here, we summarise the epidemiological evidence of how climate variations and trends affect various health outcomes. We assess the little evidence there is that recent global warming has already affected some health outcomes. We review the published estimates of future health effects of climate change over coming decades. Research so far has mostly focused on thermal stress, extreme weather events, and infectious diseases, with some attention to estimates of future regional food yields and hunger prevalence. An emerging broader approach addresses a wider spectrum of health risks due to the social, demographic, and economic disruptions of climate change. Evidence and anticipation of adverse health effects will strengthen the case for pre-emptive policies, and will also guide priorities for planned adaptive strategies.
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          Heat stress and public health: a critical review.

          Heat is an environmental and occupational hazard. The prevention of deaths in the community caused by extreme high temperatures (heat waves) is now an issue of public health concern. The risk of heat-related mortality increases with natural aging, but persons with particular social and/or physical vulnerability are also at risk. Important differences in vulnerability exist between populations, depending on climate, culture, infrastructure (housing), and other factors. Public health measures include health promotion and heat wave warning systems, but the effectiveness of acute measures in response to heat waves has not yet been formally evaluated. Climate change will increase the frequency and the intensity of heat waves, and a range of measures, including improvements to housing, management of chronic diseases, and institutional care of the elderly and the vulnerable, will need to be developed to reduce health impacts.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            International Journal of Population Research
            International Journal of Population Research
            Hindawi Limited
            2090-4029
            2090-4037
            2012
            2012
            : 2012
            :
            : 1-12
            10.1155/2012/518687
            © 2012

            http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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