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Climate change and health: indoor heat exposure in vulnerable populations.

White-Newsome JL; Sánchez BN; Jolliet O; Zhang Z; Parker EA; Dvonch JT; O'Neill MS
Environ Res 2012 Jan; 112:20-27
INTRODUCTION: Climate change is increasing the frequency of heat waves and hot weather in many urban environments. Older people are more vulnerable to heat exposure but spend most of their time indoors. Few published studies have addressed indoor heat exposure in residences occupied by an elderly population. The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between outdoor and indoor temperatures in homes occupied by the elderly and determine other predictors of indoor temperature. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We collected hourly indoor temperature measurements of 30 different homes; outdoor temperature, dewpoint temperature, and solar radiation data during summer 2009 in Detroit, Michigan. We used mixed linear regression to model indoor temperatures' responsiveness to weather, housing and environmental characteristics, and evaluated our ability to predict indoor heat exposures based on outdoor conditions. RESULTS: Average maximum indoor temperature for all locations was 34.85 degrees C, 13.8 degrees C higher than average maximum outdoor temperature. Indoor temperatures of single family homes constructed of vinyl paneling or wood siding were more sensitive than brick homes to outdoor temperature changes and internal heat gains. Outdoor temperature, solar radiation, and dewpoint temperature predicted 38% of the variability of indoor temperatures. CONCLUSIONS: Indoor exposures to heat in Detroit exceed the comfort range among elderly occupants, and can be predicted using outdoor temperatures, characteristics of the housing stock and surroundings to improve heat exposure assessment for epidemiological investigations. Weatherizing homes and modifying home surroundings could mitigate indoor heat exposure among the elderly.
Hot-environments; Indoor-environmental-quality; Heat-exposure; Climatic-conditions; Climatic-effects; Climatic-factors; Temperature-effects; Age-factors; Age-groups; Temperature-measurement; Outdoors; Humans; Mathematical-models; Measurement-equipment; Heat-regulation; Environmental-technology; Solar-energy; Epidemiology; Health-hazards; Environmental-health-monitoring; Author Keywords: Indoor heat exposure; Building characteristics; Climate change; Elderly; Built environment
Jalonne L. White-Newsome, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Environmental Health Sciences Department, 109 S. Observatory, SPH II, Rm. M6314, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-T42-OH-008455; B04132012
Source Name
Environmental Research
Performing Organization
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division