Occupational and environmental health: recognizing and preventing disease and injury, 5th edition. Levy BS, Wegman DH, Baron SL, Sokas RK, eds. Philadelphia PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005 Nov; :332-344
T his section of the chapter deals with extremes of temperature and their adverse health effects. Box 14C-l deals with physical hazards related to hyperbaric and hypobaric environments and their adverse health effects. From 1979 through 1999, there were 8,015 deaths attributed to exposure to excessive heat in the United States. Almost half (48 percent) were "due to weather conditions," 5 percent were "of manmade origins" (such as heat generated in vehicles, kitchens, boiler and furnace rooms, and factories), and the rest were of "unspecified origin."t During a typical year in the United States, heat waves, which have been. defined as consecutive days of air temperatures 90°F (32.2°C) or greater, I kill more people than all other natural disasters combined.2 During the 19908, two heat waves struck the city of Chicago, killing more than 1,000 people. Hundreds of people also died throughout Europe during the summer of 2003, with the early onset of hot weather, unusually high temperatures, and prolonged heat-stress conditions. Advanced age and the inability to care for oneself are found to be major contributing factors for heatrelated deaths. In Rome, the greatest mortality increases were seen in people aged 65 years or older and living in the most economically disadvantaged areas of the city. Other factors that may have had an impact on health include poor-quality housing, lack of air conditioning, lack of access to social services and health care, and behaviors such as drinking alcohol and taking medication.