Extreme temperatures are associated with 6% of deaths in Latin American cities, study finds

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Exposure to extreme environmental temperatures, such as severe cold and heat above 40°C, puts human and animal health at risk. Researchers from Latin America and the United States assess how climate change and urbanization transform this scenario and can impact mortality.

A study by the Salud Urbana en América Latina (Salurbal) project, with the participation of Brazilian researchers, analyzed the relationship between too high or too low temperatures and mortality in 326 cities in nine Latin American countries.

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You experts have identified that nearly 6% of all deaths can be attributed to extreme temperatures. . The findings were published in the journal Nature Medicine.

For the analysis, data on mortality in cities between 2002 and 2015 were considered. More than 15 million deaths were included. The assessment pointed out that extreme temperatures affect especially the most vulnerable populations and can also be associated with deaths from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

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According to the researchers, the elderly and children are the population groups most at risk. On very hot days, each higher degree in temperature was related to a 5.7% increase in deaths. In addition, more than 10% of deaths from respiratory infections are caused by extreme cold, according to the study.

“Our findings underscore the pressing need for cities to prepare for the increasingly frequent and severe temperature extremes predicted for decades to come. We must act to identify vulnerable populations, adapt infrastructure, and improve our ability to respond promptly to life-saving emergencies.”

Greenhouse effect and urbanization

The findings are in line with evidence supporting the need for a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the most serious effects of climate change.

“The population of Latin America lives with an enormous risk of exposure to heat. However, so far few studies have documented the links between extreme temperatures and health in the region. Increased heat exposure is just one of the many adverse health impacts of climate change,” says Professor Ana Diez Roux, from the School of Public Health at Drexel University and a researcher at Salurbal.

Professor Daniel Rodríguez, a researcher at UC Berkeley, in the United States, assesses that demographic trends in Latin America – including population aging and the search for urban areas, make understanding the public health risks posed by climate change even more critical. .

“We need to find our own adaptation strategies, adapted to the Latin American context”, says Rodríguez, who participated in the project.

The study also had the participation of researchers Waleska Teixeira Caiaffa (Federal University of Minas Gerais), Nelson Gouveia (University of São Paulo), Brisa Sánchez, Jeffrey Moore and Leah Schinasi (Drexel); Maryia Bakhtsiyarava, Iryna Dronova and Yang Ju (Berkeley) and Saravanan Arunachalam (University of North Carolina, United States).

Source: CNN Brasil

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