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Heat-Related Mortality


Heat is associated with high mortality rates in the United States. The main route of entry of heat is the skin. The study was conducted using data that were collected in 105 cities in the United States in the 1987-2005 period to assess the mortality rates that were correlated with heat. It was established that there was a decline in the number of deaths. However, it was established that the elderly in society were more affected.

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Article summary

Bobb, J. F., Peng, R. D., Bell, M. L., & Dominici, F. (2014). Heat-related mortality and adaptation to heat in the United States. Environmental health perspectives, 23(12), 1-26.

The article focuses on the number of deaths that are caused by heat and how persons adapt to heat in the United States (Bobb, Peng, Bell & Dominici, 2014). The world is experiencing relatively high temperatures that are anticipated to have negative health impacts. The negative health impacts could be prevented if persons and communities are able to adapt to varying heat exposures.

However, the authors of the article argue that little is known with regard to the extent to which people across the world could be adapting (Bobb et al., 2014). The objective of the study was to assess the assumption that “if adaptation is occurring, then heat-related mortality would be decreasing over time” (Bobb et al., 2014, p. 2). The study utilized daily weather data, the number of deaths data that were grouped into ages and air pollution data. It is important to underscore that 105 cities in the US were studied for a period of 18 years (1987-2005). Regression models were used in the estimation of trends that were related to regions, cities and national statistics.

The results showed that “the number of deaths (per 1000 deaths) attributable to each 10oF increase in same-day temperature decreased from 51 (95% posterior interval: 42-61) in 1987 to 19 (12-27) in 2005” (Bobb et al., 2014, p. 18). It was noted that the biggest decline was among persons aged 75 and older. In addition, cities located in the northern parts of the United States were shown to have relatively high rates of mortality. The data correlate with those reported in the United States by other bodies (CDC Environmental Health, 2014; Environmental Health Perspectives, 2014). In fact, the National Center for Health Statistics (2014) contends that mortality rates vary among different ages.

The route of exposure

The route of exposure that was the focus of the study was the skin. The authors contend that relatively high temperatures result in heat that penetrates through the skin. In fact, the larger the skin surface area that is exposed to heat the higher the chances of suffering from heat-related illnesses.

The environmental agent

The environmental agent (heat) that is addressed in the study represents a physical factor. Heat is obtained from the sun and it only harms persons when it penetrates the skin in relatively large amounts over prolonged periods (Moeller, 2011). However, although heat is a physical agent, it is crucial to note that it causes chemical changes in the body.

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An effective method of control

Behavioral control is an effective method of control that could be used to prevent persons from negative impacts of heat (Moeller, 2011). Another type of control is the use of protective materials (National Environmental Public Health Tracking, 2014). However, behavioral control is better than the use of physical means because more persons in society can adopt it without limitations based on their financial abilities (Moeller, 2011).


In conclusion, it is apparent that climate changes are leading to exposures to relatively high temperatures that harm people. Although the study findings demonstrate that there has been a reduction in the number of deaths caused by heat, more actions need to be taken to prevent deaths caused by the physical agent. Behavioral control is an effective approach that could be adopted by many persons in the United States.


Bobb, J. F., Peng, R. D., Bell, M. L., & Dominici, F. (2014). Heat-related mortality and adaptation to heat in the United States. Environmental health perspectives, 23(12), 1-26.

CDC Environmental Health. (2014). Data Resources. Web.

Environmental Health Perspectives. (2014). Learning to take the heat. Web.

Moeller, D. W. (2011). Environmental health (4th ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

National Center for Health Statistics. (2014). Nation at a glance: Age-adjusted Death Rates by States. Web.

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National Environmental Public Health Tracking. (2014). National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program Mini-Monograph in Environmental Health Perspectives On-line. Web.

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