Ambient temperature and morbidity: a review of epidemiological evidence

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Date: Jan. 2012
From: Environmental Health Perspectives(Vol. 120, Issue 1)
Publisher: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Document Type: Report
Length: 6,769 words
Lexile Measure: 1320L

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OBJECTIVE: In this paper, we review rhe epidemiological evidence on the relationship between ambient temperature and morbidity. We assessed the methodological issues in previous studies and proposed future research directions.

DATA SOURCES AND Data EXTRACTION: We searched the PubMed database for epidemiological studies on ambient temperature and morbidity of noncommunicabie diseases published in refereed English journals before 30 June 2010. Forty relevant studies were identified. Of these, 24 examined the relationship between ambient temperature and morbidity, 15 investigated the short-term effects of heat wave on morbidity, and 1 assessed both temperature and heat wave effects.

Data SYNTHESIS: Descriptive and time-series studies were the two main research designs used to investigate the temperature-morbidity relationship. Measurements of temperature exposure and health outcomes used in these studies differed widely. The majority of studies reported a significant relationship between ambient temperature and total or cause-specific morbidities. However, there were some inconsistencies in the direction and magnitude of nonlinear lag effects. The lag effect of hot temperature on morbidity was shorter (several days) compared with that of cold temperature (up to a few weeks). The temperature--morbidity relationship may be confounded or modified by sociodemographic factors and air pollution.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a significant short-term effect of ambient temperature on total and cause-specific morbidities. However, further research is needed to determine an appropriate temperature measure, consider a diverse range of morbidities, and to use consistent methodology to make different studies more comparable.

Key WORDS: climate change, heat wave, hospital admission, morbidity, review, temperature. Environ Health Perspect 120:19-28 (2012). http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1003198 [Online 8 August 2011]

It is widely accepted that climate change is occurring and that it is caused mainly by increased emissions of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, particularly over the last few decades [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (TPCC) 2007a]. Global mean temperature increased by 0.07[degrees]C per decade between 1906 and 2005, compared with 0.13[degrees]C per decade from 1956 to 2005 (IPCC 2007b). Not only has the average global surface temperature increased, but the frequency and intensity of temperature extremes have also changed [IPCC 2007a; World Health Organization (WHO) 2008]. Heat wave episodes have been associated with significant health impacts, for example, in 1995 in Chicago, Illinois (Semenza et al. 1999), in 2003 in Europe (Cerutti ct al. 2006; Johnson et al. 2005; Larrieu et al. 2008; Mastrangelo et al. 2007; Oberlin et al. 2010), in 2006 in California (Knowlton et al. 2009), and in 2009 in southeastern Australia (National Climate Centre 2009). In addition, episodes of extreme cold (cold spells) are a concern in high-latitude regions (Pattenden et al. 2003) such as Russia (Revich and Shaposhnikov 2008), the Czech Republic (Kysely et al. 2009), and the Netherlands (Huynen et al. 2001).

The effect of ambient temperature on morbidity is a significant public health issue. Every year, a large number of hospitalizations are associated with exposure to extreme ambient temperatures, especially during heat waves and cold spells (Juopperi et al. 2002; Michelozzi et al. 2009; Schwartz ct al. 2004; Semenza et al. 1999). For example, during the 1995...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A278773897