221417 Climate change, heat waves, and population vulnerability: Using the environmental public health tracking network for validity testing of the heat vulnerability index

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 8:45 AM - 9:00 AM

Colleen Reid, MPH , Environmental Health Sciences, University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health, Berkeley, CA
Jennifer Mann, PhD, MPH , Environmental Public Health Tracking, School of Public Health, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
M. Helen Flowers, MS , Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA
Helene Margolis, PhD, MA , Department of Internal Medicine, Division of General Medicine, University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, Sacramento, CA
Nancy L. West, MS , Washington State Department of Health, Olympia, WA
Daniel Rubado, MPH , Oregon Public Health Division, Portland, OR
Brian Woods , Epidemiology and Response Division, Environmental Health Epidemiology Bureau, State of New Mexico Department of Health, Santa Fe, NM
John R. Balmes, MD , School of Public Health, University of California Berkeley, School of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, Berkeley, CA
Heat waves and extreme hot weather conditions have been associated with increased burdens of morbidity and mortality, but the risks are not evenly distributed throughout the population. Mapping the spatial distribution of risk for heat-related morbidity and mortality would allow public health departments to target interventions known to prevent illness and deaths during heat waves to the most vulnerable areas. Previously, a heat vulnerability index (HVI) was created that combined factors of environmental and social vulnerability, social isolation, air conditioning prevalence, and pre-existing health conditions to locate vulnerability to heat in geographic space in metropolitan areas throughout the United States. Our study attempts to verify that the intra-urban spatial distribution of vulnerability demonstrated by the HVI is valid using local health information from several public health departments that are participating in the Center for Disease Control's Environmental Public Health Tracking Network. We calculated rates of mortality and morbidity endpoints on days exceeding the 95th and 99th percentiles for apparent temperature by geographic region for 13 years (1995-2007) at the zip code level and regressed these on the HVI to see if there was a consistent relationship of increasing adverse health impacts due to heat with increasing HVI score within metropolitan areas, states, and nationally. Our results indicate that spatial mapping of vulnerability is a useful tool for local public health departments to target increasingly scarce resources for preventing adverse health outcomes due to heat waves.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. List factors that are associated with vulnerability to heat-related morbidity and mortality. 2. Identify geographic areas potentially vulnerable to increased morbidity and mortality due to heat waves in their own jurisdictions. 3. Understand how local data can be used to verify the accuracy of a heat vulnerability index.

Keywords: Vulnerable Populations, Climate Change

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked in the field of climate change and health for over two years, and was the lead author on the original article on the heat vulnerability index that this study further investigates. I have an MPH in Environmental Health Sciences and am working on my PhD in the same field.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.