231429 Heat Stress and Vulnerable Communities in Arizona

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 10:30 AM - 10:50 AM

Sharon Harlan, PhD , School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
This study examines vulnerability as a dynamic feature of coupled human and natural systems that create uneven heat riskscapes in cities. It addresses the interplay between urban microclimates and socio-ecological neighborhood conditions that amplify or mitigate heat-related hazards for different socioeconomic and racial/ethnic groups in Phoenix, Arizona (USA). Phoenix is a Southwestern desert city where the average daily summer temperature is 105oF. Twentieth century human adaptations to climate, such as large-scale water projects, landscape transitions, and air conditioning, created a habitable environment for most of today's 4.5 million metropolitan area residents. Access to heat adaptive capacity, however, is unevenly available in the population due to historical and current inequalities in quality housing, education, income-generating employment, and associated differences in residential neighborhoods. This presentation will demonstrate greater vulnerability to chronically hot weather among certain population groups through an analysis of deaths in the Phoenix region over a nine-year period. It will summarize the incidence of deaths that are attributable directly to heat exposure and that may be indirectly related to behavior and underlying diseases during the warm season. It will also discuss inequalities in coping capacities to deal with extreme heat among households and neighborhoods. Examples of proposed adaptations to extreme heat in state and city plans will be compared with findings from community-based research on the needs of vulnerable populations.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe two factors that affect vulnerability to heat stress in Arizona.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am the principal investigator of a federal grant that is examining exposure to extreme heat and health outcomes in Phoenix, AZ.
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.