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How Heat Mortality Associations Changed Between 1985 and 2012

Paper Reviewed
Gasparrini, A., Guo, Y., Hashizume, M., Kinney, P.L., Petkova, E.P., Lavigne, E., Zanobetti, A., Schwartz, J.D., Tobias, A., Leone, M., Tong, S., Honda, Y., Kim, H. and Armstrong, B.G. 2015. Temporal Variation in Heat-Mortality Associations: A Multi-country Study. Environmental Health Perspectives 123: 1200-1207.

After collecting pertinent data for 272 locations scattered throughout Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, Gasparrini et al. (2015) went on to analyze the 20,203,690 heat-related deaths that occurred in these countries during the summer months between 1985 and 2012. And what did they learn by so doing?

The 14 researchers report that (1) "mortality risk due to heat appeared to decrease over time in several countries, with relative risks associated with high temperatures significantly lower in 2006 compared with 1993 in the United States, Japan and Spain," that (2) there was "a non-significant decrease in Canada," that (3) "temporal changes were difficult to assess in Australia and South Korea due to low statistical power," and that they (4) "found little evidence of variation in the United Kingdom," while (5) "in the United States, the risk seemed to be completely abated in 2006 for summer temperatures below their 99th percentile."

All things considered, therefore, Gasparrini et al. concluded there was "a statistically significant decrease in the relative risk for heat-related mortality in 2006 compared with 1993 in the majority of countries included in the analysis," even though global temperatures kept creeping upward throughout much of this time period.

Posted 12 May 2016