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Heat-Associated Deaths in Maricopa County: AZ Final Report for 2014

Description

Mortality from environmental heat is a significant public health problem in Maricopa County, especially because it is largely preventable. Maricopa County has conducted heat surveillance since 2006. Each year, the enhanced heat surveillance season usually begins in May and ends

Mortality from environmental heat is a significant public health problem in Maricopa County, especially because it is largely preventable. Maricopa County has conducted heat surveillance since 2006. Each year, the enhanced heat surveillance season usually begins in May and ends in October. The main goals of heat surveillance are to identify the demographic characteristics of heat-associated deaths (e.g., age and gender) and the risk factors for mortality (e.g., homelessness). Sharing this information helps community stakeholders to design interventions in an effort to prevent heat-associated deaths among vulnerable populations.

The two main sources of data for heat surveillance are: preliminary reports of death (PRODs) from the Office of the Medical Examiner (OME) and death certificates from the MCDPH Office of Vital Registration.

Heat-associated deaths are classified as heat-caused or heat related. Heat-caused deaths are those in which environmental heat was directly involved in the sequence of conditions causing deaths. Heat-related deaths are those in which environmental heat contributed to the deaths but was not in the sequence of conditions causing these deaths. For more information on how heat-associated deaths are classified, see the definitions in Appendix. For more information on MCDPH’s surveillance system, see Background and Methodology.

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Created

Date Created
2015

Multiple Trigger Points for Quantifying Heat-Health Impacts: New Evidence from a Hot Climate

Description

Background: Extreme heat is a public health challenge. The scarcity of directly comparable studies on the association of heat with morbidity and mortality and the inconsistent identification of threshold temperatures for severe impacts hampers the development of comprehensive strategies aimed

Background: Extreme heat is a public health challenge. The scarcity of directly comparable studies on the association of heat with morbidity and mortality and the inconsistent identification of threshold temperatures for severe impacts hampers the development of comprehensive strategies aimed at reducing adverse heat-health events.

Objectives: This quantitative study was designed to link temperature with mortality and morbidity events in Maricopa County, Arizona, USA, with a focus on the summer season.

Methods: Using Poisson regression models that controlled for temporal confounders, we assessed daily temperature–health associations for a suite of mortality and morbidity events, diagnoses, and temperature metrics. Minimum risk temperatures, increasing risk temperatures, and excess risk temperatures were statistically identified to represent different “trigger points” at which heat-health intervention measures might be activated.

Results: We found significant and consistent associations of high environmental temperature with all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, heat-related mortality, and mortality resulting from conditions that are consequences of heat and dehydration. Hospitalizations and emergency department visits due to heat-related conditions and conditions associated with consequences of heat and dehydration were also strongly associated with high temperatures, and there were several times more of those events than there were deaths. For each temperature metric, we observed large contrasts in trigger points (up to 22°C) across multiple health events and diagnoses.

Conclusion: Consideration of multiple health events and diagnoses together with a comprehensive approach to identifying threshold temperatures revealed large differences in trigger points for possible interventions related to heat. Providing an array of heat trigger points applicable for different end-users may improve the public health response to a problem that is projected to worsen in the coming decades.

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2016-02-01

Seasonal Hydroclimatic Impacts of Sun Corridor Expansion

Description

Conversion of natural to urban land forms imparts influence on local and regional hydroclimate via modification of the surface energy and water balance, and consideration of such effects due to rapidly expanding megapolitan areas is necessary in light of the

Conversion of natural to urban land forms imparts influence on local and regional hydroclimate via modification of the surface energy and water balance, and consideration of such effects due to rapidly expanding megapolitan areas is necessary in light of the growing global share of urban inhabitants. Based on a suite of ensemble-based, multi-year simulations using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, we quantify seasonally varying hydroclimatic impacts of the most rapidly expanding megapolitan area in the US: Arizona's Sun Corridor, centered upon the Greater Phoenix metropolitan area. Using a scenario-based urban expansion approach that accounts for the full range of Sun Corridor growth uncertainty through 2050, we show that built environment induced warming for the maximum development scenario is greatest during the summer season (regionally averaged warming over AZ exceeds 1 °C).

Warming remains significant during the spring and fall seasons (regionally averaged warming over AZ approaches 0.9 °C during both seasons), and is least during the winter season (regionally averaged warming over AZ of 0.5 °C). Impacts from a minimum expansion scenario are reduced, with regionally averaged warming ranging between 0.1 and 0.3 °C for all seasons except winter, when no warming impacts are diagnosed. Integration of highly reflective cool roofs within the built environment, increasingly recognized as a cost-effective option intended to offset the warming influence of urban complexes, reduces urban-induced warming considerably. However, impacts on the hydrologic cycle are aggravated via enhanced evapotranspiration reduction, leading to a 4% total accumulated precipitation decrease relative to the non-adaptive maximum expansion scenario. Our results highlight potentially unintended consequences of this adaptation approach within rapidly expanding megapolitan areas, and emphasize the need for undeniably sustainable development paths that account for hydrologic impacts in addition to continued focus on mean temperature effects.

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Date Created
2012-09-07

Challenges Associated with Projecting Urbanization-Induced Heat-Related Mortality

Description

Maricopa County, Arizona, anchor to the fastest growing megapolitan area in the United States, is located in a hot desert climate where extreme temperatures are associated with elevated risk of mortality. Continued urbanization in the region will impact atmospheric temperatures

Maricopa County, Arizona, anchor to the fastest growing megapolitan area in the United States, is located in a hot desert climate where extreme temperatures are associated with elevated risk of mortality. Continued urbanization in the region will impact atmospheric temperatures and, as a result, potentially affect human health. We aimed to quantify the number of excess deaths attributable to heat in Maricopa County based on three future urbanization and adaptation scenarios and multiple exposure variables.

Two scenarios (low and high growth projections) represent the maximum possible uncertainty range associated with urbanization in central Arizona, and a third represents the adaptation of high-albedo cool roof technology. Using a Poisson regression model, we related temperature to mortality using data spanning 1983–2007. Regional climate model simulations based on 2050-projected urbanization scenarios for Maricopa County generated distributions of temperature change, and from these predicted changes future excess heat-related mortality was estimated. Subject to urbanization scenario and exposure variable utilized, projections of heat-related mortality ranged from a decrease of 46 deaths per year (− 95%) to an increase of 339 deaths per year (+ 359%).

Projections based on minimum temperature showed the greatest increase for all expansion and adaptation scenarios and were substantially higher than those for daily mean temperature. Projections based on maximum temperature were largely associated with declining mortality. Low-growth and adaptation scenarios led to the smallest increase in predicted heat-related mortality based on mean temperature projections. Use of only one exposure variable to project future heat-related deaths may therefore be misrepresentative in terms of direction of change and magnitude of effects. Because urbanization-induced impacts can vary across the diurnal cycle, projections of heat-related health outcomes that do not consider place-based, time-varying urban heat island effects are neglecting essential elements for policy relevant decision-making.

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Created

Date Created
2014-04-28

Improving Heat-Related Health Outcomes in an Urban Environment With Science-Based Policy

Description

We use the Northeast US Urban Climate Archipelago as a case study to explore three key limitations of planning and policy initiatives to mitigate extreme urban heat. These limitations are: (1) a lack of understanding of spatial considerations—for example, how

We use the Northeast US Urban Climate Archipelago as a case study to explore three key limitations of planning and policy initiatives to mitigate extreme urban heat. These limitations are: (1) a lack of understanding of spatial considerations—for example, how nearby urban areas interact, affecting, and being affected by, implementation of such policies; (2) an emphasis on air temperature reduction that neglects assessments of other important meteorological parameters, such as humidity, mixing heights, and urban wind fields; and (3) too narrow of a temporal focus—either time of day, season, or current vs. future climates. Additionally, the absence of a direct policy/planning linkage between heat mitigation goals and actual human health outcomes, in general, leads to solutions that only indirectly address the underlying problems. These issues are explored through several related atmospheric modeling case studies that reveal the complexities of designing effective urban heat mitigation strategies. We conclude with recommendations regarding how policy-makers can optimize the performance of their urban heat mitigation policies and programs. This optimization starts with a thorough understanding of the actual end-point goals of these policies, and concludes with the careful integration of scientific knowledge into the development of location-specific strategies that recognize and address the limitations discussed herein.

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Created

Date Created
2016-10-12

Indoor-Outdoor Environmental Coupling and Exposure Risk to Extreme Heat and Poor Air Quality During Heat Waves

Description

Mortality and morbidity associated with extreme summer heat and poor air quality continues to be one of the most pressing human health challenges in cities and is likely to be exacerbated in the future due to urban growth and climate

Mortality and morbidity associated with extreme summer heat and poor air quality continues to be one of the most pressing human health challenges in cities and is likely to be exacerbated in the future due to urban growth and climate change. Heat is currently the leading weather-related cause of death in the developed world (e.g. CDC 2004), and future heat vulnerability for the elderly is projected to increase substantially in the coming decades (Sheridan et al., 2012).

Recent extreme heat events such as the May 2015 heat wave in India that saw record temperatures near 50oC and resulted in more than 2500 deaths, have underlined the importance and urgency of the problem. Traditional epidemiological studies of the health effects of heat and air quality focus on outdoor environmental conditions. This approach is suitable for assessing heat-health risks for populations that spend much of their time outdoors (e.g. homeless, construction workers, etc). However, as was the case of the European heat wave of 2003, the particularly vulnerable population was the elderly, and in particular, elderly who lived on the top floor of a building that lacked air conditioning (Mavrogianni et al., 2012). Typical urban residents spend more than 85% of their time indoors (Klepeis et al., 2001)—and some of the most vulnerable populations (e.g., the elderly) spend an even higher fraction of time indoors.

While the indoor environment is coupled with the outdoor environment there are key differences both in terms of air quality and thermal conditions. With respect to thermal environment, for buildings without air conditioning, this coupling includes variations in indoor air temperature that depend on building construction characteristics, location within building (e.g. top floor, south façade), occupant behavior, internal loads, ventilation, and infiltration. Indoor air quality, on the other hand, is driven by the relative magnitude of each mode of air exchange (e.g. infiltration vs. filtered mechanical ventilation) and emissions and secondary reactions of air pollutants indoors.

Hence, there is a need to better understand the relationship between indoor and outdoor environments, and how this relationship is affected by occupant behavior and building construction and management practices. In the case of air conditioned and mechanically ventilated buildings a scenario of particular interest is that of coincident heat waves and power outages producing very unhealthy indoor environments. This paper discusses a newly funded research project that addresses these issues, with an emphasis on assisted living facilities using the city of Houston Texas, USA as the research test bed. It will introduce some of the key mechanisms that drive differences in indoor and outdoor conditions and present some early findings related to risks of coincident heat waves and power outages or equipment failures in buildings.

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Date Created
2015-06-15

Mapping Community Determinants of Heat Vulnerability

Description

Background:
The evidence that heat waves can result in both increased deaths and illness is substantial, and concern over this issue is rising because of climate change. Adverse health impacts from heat waves can be avoided, and epidemiologic studies have

Background:
The evidence that heat waves can result in both increased deaths and illness is substantial, and concern over this issue is rising because of climate change. Adverse health impacts from heat waves can be avoided, and epidemiologic studies have identified specific population and community characteristics that mark vulnerability to heat waves.

Objectives:
We situated vulnerability to heat in geographic space and identified potential areas for intervention and further research.

Methods:
We mapped and analyzed 10 vulnerability factors for heat-related morbidity/mortality in the United States: six demographic characteristics and two household air conditioning variables from the U.S. Census Bureau, vegetation cover from satellite images, and diabetes prevalence from a national survey. We performed a factor analysis of these 10 variables and assigned values of increasing vulnerability for the four resulting factors to each of 39,794 census tracts. We added the four factor scores to obtain a cumulative heat vulnerability index value.

Results:
Four factors explained > 75% of the total variance in the original 10 vulnerability variables: a) social/environmental vulnerability (combined education/poverty/race/green space), b) social isolation, c) air conditioning prevalence, and d) proportion elderly/diabetes. We found substantial spatial variability of heat vulnerability nationally, with generally higher vulnerability in the Northeast and Pacific Coast and the lowest in the Southeast. In urban areas, inner cities showed the highest vulnerability to heat.

Conclusions:
These methods provide a template for making local and regional heat vulnerability maps. After validation using health outcome data, interventions can be targeted at the most vulnerable populations.

Contributors

Created

Date Created
2009-11-01

Neighborhood Effects on Heat Deaths: Social and Environmental Predictors of Vulnerability in Maricopa County, Arizona

Description

Objectives: We estimated neighborhood effects of population characteristics and built and natural environments on deaths due to heat exposure in Maricopa County, Arizona (2000–2008).

Methods: We used 2000 U.S. Census data and remotely sensed vegetation and land surface temperature to construct

Objectives: We estimated neighborhood effects of population characteristics and built and natural environments on deaths due to heat exposure in Maricopa County, Arizona (2000–2008).

Methods: We used 2000 U.S. Census data and remotely sensed vegetation and land surface temperature to construct indicators of neighborhood vulnerability and a geographic information system to map vulnerability and residential addresses of persons who died from heat exposure in 2,081 census block groups. Binary logistic regression and spatial analysis were used to associate deaths with neighborhoods.

Results: Neighborhood scores on three factors—socioeconomic vulnerability, elderly/isolation, and unvegetated area—varied widely throughout the study area. The preferred model (based on fit and parsimony) for predicting the odds of one or more deaths from heat exposure within a census block group included the first two factors and surface temperature in residential neighborhoods, holding population size constant. Spatial analysis identified clusters of neighborhoods with the highest heat vulnerability scores. A large proportion of deaths occurred among people, including homeless persons, who lived in the inner cores of the largest cities and along an industrial corridor.

Conclusions: Place-based indicators of vulnerability complement analyses of person-level heat risk factors. Surface temperature might be used in Maricopa County to identify the most heat-vulnerable neighborhoods, but more attention to the socioecological complexities of climate adaptation is needed.

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Created

Date Created
2013-02-01

Heat-Related Deaths in Hot Cities: Estimates of Human Tolerance to High Temperature Thresholds

Description

In this study we characterized the relationship between temperature and mortality in central Arizona desert cities that have an extremely hot climate. Relationships between daily maximum apparent temperature (ATmax) and mortality for eight condition-specific causes and all-cause deaths were modeled

In this study we characterized the relationship between temperature and mortality in central Arizona desert cities that have an extremely hot climate. Relationships between daily maximum apparent temperature (ATmax) and mortality for eight condition-specific causes and all-cause deaths were modeled for all residents and separately for males and females ages <65 and ≥65 during the months May–October for years 2000–2008. The most robust relationship was between ATmax on day of death and mortality from direct exposure to high environmental heat. For this condition-specific cause of death, the heat thresholds in all gender and age groups (ATmax = 90–97 °F; 32.2‒36.1 °C) were below local median seasonal temperatures in the study period (ATmax = 99.5 °F; 37.5 °C). Heat threshold was defined as ATmax at which the mortality ratio begins an exponential upward trend. Thresholds were identified in younger and older females for cardiac disease/stroke mortality (ATmax = 106 and 108 °F; 41.1 and 42.2 °C) with a one-day lag. Thresholds were also identified for mortality from respiratory diseases in older people (ATmax = 109 °F; 42.8 °C) and for all-cause mortality in females (ATmax = 107 °F; 41.7 °C) and males <65 years (ATmax = 102 °F; 38.9 °C). Heat-related mortality in a region that has already made some adaptations to predictable periods of extremely high temperatures suggests that more extensive and targeted heat-adaptation plans for climate change are needed in cities worldwide.

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Created

Date Created
2014-05-20

Heat Death Associations With the Built Environment, Social Vulnerability, and Their Interactions With Rising Temperature

Description

In an extreme heat event, people can go to air-conditioned public facilities if residential air-conditioning is not available. Residences that heat slowly may also mitigate health effects, particularly in neighborhoods with social vulnerability. We explored the contributions of social vulnerability

In an extreme heat event, people can go to air-conditioned public facilities if residential air-conditioning is not available. Residences that heat slowly may also mitigate health effects, particularly in neighborhoods with social vulnerability. We explored the contributions of social vulnerability and these infrastructures to heat mortality in Maricopa County and whether these relationships are sensitive to temperature. Using Poisson regression modeling with heat-related mortality as the outcome, we assessed the interaction of increasing temperature with social vulnerability, access to publicly available air conditioned space, home air conditioning and the thermal properties of residences. As temperatures increase, mortality from heat-related illness increases less in census tracts with more publicly accessible cooled spaces. Mortality from all internal causes of death did not have this association. Building thermal protection was not associated with mortality. Social vulnerability was still associated with mortality after adjusting for the infrastructure variables. To reduce heat-related mortality, the use of public cooled spaces might be expanded to target the most vulnerable.

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Created

Date Created
2016-08-03