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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
15-Jul-2010

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Contact: Graeme Baldwin
graeme.baldwin@biomedcentral.com
44-020-319-22165
BioMed Central
@biomedcentral

Hot town, summer in the city

Heat wave impact differs between countries

Heat waves may cause increased mortality but, until now, there has been no single scientific definition for the occasional bursts of hot weather that can strike during the summer months. Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Environmental Health have created a definition that they use to document, for the first time, how heat wave mortality impact differs between European cities.

Daniela D'Ippoliti from the Regional Health Authority, Rome, Italy, worked with an international team of researchers to develop the new definition and then used it to compare the impact of heat waves on mortality in different European cities. She said, "Heat waves of long duration had the greatest impact on mortality, and resulted in 1.5 to 3 times higher daily mortality than others. The elderly are most at risk during heat waves, especially women. And the excess mortality is mostly in regard to respiratory, rather than cardiovascular, mortality."

The researchers' definition of a heat wave was a period of at least two days when 'Tappmax', an interaction between maximum air temperature and humidity, was among the highest monthly 10%, or when the minimum temperature was among the highest 10% with Tappmax above the average.

Speaking about future applications of this work, D'Ippoliti said, "Climate change predictions for Europe show an increase in the frequency and the intensity of heat waves, especially in central, southern and eastern Europe, and as consequence heat-related mortality will become a relevant threat even in cities usually not exposed to extreme hot temperatures. Because the impact of heat waves differs between cities, public health interventions need to be tailored to the specific needs and should focus on the elderly, especially women living in urban areas".

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Notes to Editors

1. The impact of heat waves on mortality in 9 European cities: results from the EuroHEAT project
Daniela D'Ippoliti, Paola Michelozzi, Claudia Marino, Francesca de'Donato, Bettina Menne, Klea Katsouyanni, Ursula Kirchmayer, Antonis Analitis, Mercedes Medina-Ramon, Anna Paldy, Richard Atkinson, Sari Kovats, Luigi Bisanti, Alexandra Schneider, Agnes Lefranc, Carmen Iniguez and Carlo A Perucci
Environmental Health (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.ehjournal.net/imedia/1216283299370926_article.pdf?random=955772

After the embargo, article available at the journal website: http://www.ehjournal.net/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication.

2. The project was funded by the European Commission and coordinated by the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe in Rome.

3. Environmental Health is an open access, peer-reviewed, online journal that considers manuscripts on all aspects of environmental and occupational medicine, and related studies in toxicology and epidemiology.

4. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.



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