Save Lives – Raise the Temperature

The concept of “Excess Winter Deaths” is straightforward. Winter kills.

You could save 3 people a day from dying in the winter by raising temps 5C.

If the temperature went up 5C in Ontario, it would kill 4 people a day in summer.

If the temperature went up 5C in Ontario, it would save 7 people a day in winter.

In warm seasons, each 5°C increase in daily mean temperature was associated with a 2.5% increase in nonaccidental deaths (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.3% to 3.8%) on the day of exposure (lag 0). In cold seasons, each 5°C decrease in daily temperature was associated with a 3.0% (95% CI 1.8% to 4.2%) increase in nonaccidental deaths, which persisted over 7 days (lag 0-6). The cold-related effects (lag 0-6) were stronger for cardiovascular-related deaths (any cardiovascular death: 4.1%, 95% CI 2.3% to 5.9%; ischemic heart disease: 5.8%, 95% CI 3.6% to 8.1%), especially among people less than 65 years of age (8.0%, 95% CI 3.0% to 13.0%). Conversely, heat most strongly increased respiratory-related deaths during admission to hospital (26.0%, 95% CI 0% to 61.4%).

Across Ontario, each 5°C change in daily temperature was estimated to induce 7 excess deaths per day in cold seasons and 4 excess deaths in warm seasons.

Interpretation: Heat contributed to excess deaths in Ontario, although the effect of cold weather appeared to be greater. Further work is required to better define high-risk subgroups, which might include the homeless and people with inadequately heated housing.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Those small per-day figures may apply to a rich region, such as Ontario, Canada. But the number of per-day lives saved by higher winter temperatures is much higher in poor countries where the people cannot afford fossil fuel for heating or in regions where they have already lost their forests by burning firewood to stay alive in winter.

    Reply

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