This study aims to examine the association between self-reported heat stress interference with daily activities (sleeping, work, travel, housework and exercise) and three graded-holistic health and well-being outcomes (energy, emotions and life satisfaction).
A cross-sectional study.
The setting is tropical and developing countries as Thailand, where high temperature and high humidity are common, particularly during the hottest seasons.
This study is based on an ongoing national Thai Cohort Study of distance-learning open-university adult students (N=60 569) established in 2005 to study the health-risk transition.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Health impacts from heat stress in our study are categorised as physical health impacts (energy levels), mental health impacts (emotions) and well-being (life satisfaction). For each health and well-being outcome we report ORs and 95% CIs using multinomial logistic regression adjusting for a wide array of potential confounders.
Negative health and well-being outcomes (low-energy level, emotional problems and low life satisfaction) associated with increasing frequency of heat stress interfering with daily activities. Adjusted ORs for emotional problems were between 1.5 and 4.8 and in general worse than energy level (between 1.31 and 2.91) and life satisfaction (between 1.10 and 2.49). The worst health outcomes were when heat interfered with sleeping, followed by interference with daily travel, work, housework and exercise.
In tropical Thailand there already are substantial heat stress impacts on health and well-being. Increasing temperatures from climate change plus the ageing and urbanisation of the population could significantly worsen the situation. There is a need to improve public health surveillance and public awareness regarding the risks of heat stress in daily life.
Occupational & Industrial Medicine; Epidemiology
Cities are rapidly increasing in importance as a major factor shaping the Earth system, and therefore, must take corresponding responsibility. With currently over half the world’s population, cities are supported by resources originating from primarily rural regions often located around the world far distant from the urban loci of use. The sustainability of a city can no longer be considered in isolation from the sustainability of human and natural resources it uses from proximal or distant regions, or the combined resource use and impacts of cities globally. The world’s multiple and complex environmental and social challenges require interconnected solutions and coordinated governance approaches to planetary stewardship. We suggest that a key component of planetary stewardship is a global system of cities that develop sustainable processes and policies in concert with its non-urban areas. The potential for cities to cooperate as a system and with rural connectivity could increase their capacity to effect change and foster stewardship at the planetary scale and also increase their resource security.
Urban; Rural; Resources; Sustainability; Planetary stewardship; Global; Governance
Background: Climate change is projected to cause substantial increases in population movement in coming decades. Previous research has considered the likely causal influences and magnitude of such movements and the risks to national and international security. There has been little research on the consequences of climate-related migration and the health of people who move.
Objectives: In this review, we explore the role that health impacts of climate change may play in population movements and then examine the health implications of three types of movements likely to be induced by climate change: forcible displacement by climate impacts, resettlement schemes, and migration as an adaptive response.
Methods: This risk assessment draws on research into the health of refugees, migrants, and people in resettlement schemes as analogs of the likely health consequences of climate-related migration. Some account is taken of the possible modulation of those health risks by climate change.
Discussion: Climate-change–related migration is likely to result in adverse health outcomes, both for displaced and for host populations, particularly in situations of forced migration. However, where migration and other mobility are used as adaptive strategies, health risks are likely to be minimized, and in some cases there will be health gains.
Conclusions: Purposeful and timely policy interventions can facilitate the mobility of people, enhance well-being, and maximize social and economic development in both places of origin and places of destination. Nevertheless, the anticipated occurrence of substantial relocation of groups and communities will underscore the fundamental seriousness of human-induced climate change.
climate change; displacement; health; migration; resettlement
Enhancing the adaptive capacity of individuals, communities, institutions and nations is pivotal to protecting and improving human health and well-being in the face of systemic social inequity plus dangerous climate change. However, research on the determinants of adaptive capacity in relation to health, particularly concerning the role of governance, is in its infancy. This paper highlights the intersections between global health, climate change and governance. It presents an overview of these key concerns, their relation to each other, and the potential that a greater understanding of governance may present opportunities to strengthen policy and action responses to the health effects of climate change. Important parallels between addressing health inequities and sustainable development practices in the face of global environmental change are also highlighted. We propose that governance can be investigated through two key lenses within the earth system governance theoretical framework; agency and architecture. These two governance concepts can be evaluated using methods of social network research and policy analysis using case studies and is the subject of further research.
global health; climate change; adaptive capacity; equity; governance; decision-making
Environmental and social changes associated with climate change are likely to have impacts on the well-being, health, and productivity of many working populations across the globe. The ramifications of climate change for working populations are not restricted to increases in heat exposure. Other significant risks to worker health (including physical hazards from extreme weather events, infectious diseases, under-nutrition, and mental stresses) may be amplified by future climate change, and these may have substantial impacts at all scales of economic activity. Some of these risks are difficult to quantify, but pose a substantial threat to the viability and sustainability of some working populations. These impacts may occur in both developed and developing countries, although the latter category is likely to bear the heaviest burden.
This paper explores some of the likely, non-heat-related health issues that climate change will have on working populations around the globe, now and in the future. These include exposures to various infectious diseases (vector-borne, zoonotic, and person-to-person), extreme weather events, stress and mental health issues, and malnutrition.
climate change; workers; vector-borne diseases; zoonoses; mental health; malnutrition; emergency workers; farmers
Pandemics of bubonic plague have occurred in Eurasia since the sixth century ad. Climatic variations in Central Asia affect the population size and activity of the plague bacterium's reservoir rodent species, influencing the probability of human infection. Using innovative time-series analysis of surrogate climate records spanning 1,500 years, a study in BMC Biology concludes that climatic fluctuations may have influenced these pandemics. This has potential implications for health risks from future climate change.
See research article http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7007/8/112
As an observational science, epidemiology is regarded by some researchers as inherently flawed and open to false results. In a recent paper, Boffetta et al. [Boffetta P, McLaughlin JK, LaVecchia C, Tarone RE, Lipworth L, Blot WJ. False-positive results in cancer epidemiology: a plea for epistemological modesty. J Natl Cancer Inst 100:988–995 (2008)] argued that “epidemiology is particularly prone to the generation of false-positive results.” They also said “the tendency to emphasize and over-interpret what appear to be new findings is commonplace, perhaps in part because of a belief that the findings provide information that may ultimately improve public health” and that “this tendency to hype new findings increases the likelihood of downplaying inconsistencies within the data or any lack of concordance with other sources of evidence.” The authors supported these serious charges against epidemiology and epidemiologists with few examples. Although we acknowledge that false positives do occur, we view the position of Boffetta and colleagues on false positives as unbalanced and potentially harmful to public health.
We aim to provide a more balanced evaluation of epidemiology and its contribution to public health discourse.
Boffetta and colleagues ignore the fact that false negatives may arise from the very processes that they tout as generating false-positive results. We further disagree with their proposition that false-positive results from a single study will lead to faulty decision making in matters of public health importance. In practice, such public health evaluations are based on all the data available from all relevant disciplines and never to our knowledge on a single study.
The lack of balance by Boffetta and colleagues in their evaluation of the impact of false-positive findings on epidemiology, the charge that “methodological vigilance is often absent” in epidemiologists’ interpretation of their own results, and the false characterization of how epidemiologic findings are used in societal decision making all undermine a major source of information regarding disease risks. We reaffirm the importance of epidemiologic evidence as a critical component of the foundation of public health protection.
epidemiologic methods; false negatives; false positives; hyped findings
Climate change; Environmental health; Global environmental change; Research needs; Sustainability
Arbovirus diseases have emerged as a global public health concern. However, the impact of climatic, social, and environmental variability on the transmission of arbovirus diseases remains to be determined.
Our goal for this study was to provide an overview of research development and future research directions about the interrelationship between climate variability, social and environmental factors, and the transmission of Ross River virus (RRV), the most common and widespread arbovirus disease in Australia.
We conducted a systematic literature search on climatic, social, and environmental factors and RRV disease. Potentially relevant studies were identified from a series of electronic searches.
The body of evidence revealed that the transmission cycles of RRV disease appear to be sensitive to climate and tidal variability. Rainfall, temperature, and high tides were among major determinants of the transmission of RRV disease at the macro level. However, the nature and magnitude of the interrelationship between climate variability, mosquito density, and the transmission of RRV disease varied with geographic area and socioenvironmental condition. Projected anthropogenic global climatic change may result in an increase in RRV infections, and the key determinants of RRV transmission we have identified here may be useful in the development of an early warning system.
The analysis indicates that there is a complex relationship between climate variability, social and environmental factors, and RRV transmission. Different strategies may be needed for the control and prevention of RRV disease at different levels. These research findings could be used as an additional tool to support decision making in disease control/surveillance and risk management.
climate variability; early warning system; Ross River virus transmission; social and environmental factors
In this study we examined the impact of weather variability and tides on the transmission of Barmah Forest virus (BFV) disease and developed a weather-based forecasting model for BFV disease in the Gladstone region, Australia. We used seasonal autoregressive integrated moving-average (SARIMA) models to determine the contribution of weather variables to BFV transmission after the time-series data of response and explanatory variables were made stationary through seasonal differencing. We obtained data on the monthly counts of BFV cases, weather variables (e.g., mean minimum and maximum temperature, total rainfall, and mean relative humidity), high and low tides, and the population size in the Gladstone region between January 1992 and December 2001 from the Queensland Department of Health, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Queensland Department of Transport, and Australian Bureau of Statistics, respectively. The SARIMA model shows that the 5-month moving average of minimum temperature (β = 0.15, p-value < 0.001) was statistically significantly and positively associated with BFV disease, whereas high tide in the current month (β = −1.03, p-value = 0.04) was statistically significantly and inversely associated with it. However, no significant association was found for other variables. These results may be applied to forecast the occurrence of BFV disease and to use public health resources in BFV control and prevention.
Barmah Forest virus; control; forecasting; Gladstone region; risk factors; time series modeling
Several factors, including environmental and climatic factors, influence the transmission of vector-borne diseases. Nevertheless, the identification and relative importance of climatic factors for vector-borne diseases remain controversial. Dengue is the world's most important viral vector-borne disease, and the controversy about climatic effects also applies in this case. Here we address the role of climate variability in shaping the interannual pattern of dengue epidemics.
Methods and Findings
We have analysed monthly data for Thailand from 1983 to 1997 using wavelet approaches that can describe nonstationary phenomena and that also allow the quantification of nonstationary associations between time series. We report a strong association between monthly dengue incidence in Thailand and the dynamics of El Niño for the 2–3-y periodic mode. This association is nonstationary, seen only from 1986 to 1992, and appears to have a major influence on the synchrony of dengue epidemics in Thailand.
The underlying mechanism for the synchronisation of dengue epidemics may resemble that of a pacemaker, in which intrinsic disease dynamics interact with climate variations driven by El Niño to propagate travelling waves of infection. When association with El Niño is strong in the 2–3-y periodic mode, one observes high synchrony of dengue epidemics over Thailand. When this association is absent, the seasonal dynamics become dominant and the synchrony initiated in Bangkok collapses.
In Thailand, dengue transmission patterns are complex, with El Nino showing an association with some epidemics only; other reasons will need to be found for the initiation of other outbreaks
Objective To estimate the protection against death provided by vaccination against influenza.
Design Prospective cohort follow up supplemented by weekly national counts of influenza confirmed in the community.
Setting Primary care.
Participants 24 535 patients aged over 75 years from 73 general practices in Great Britain.
Main outcome measure Death.
Results In unvaccinated members of the cohort daily all cause mortality was strongly associated with an index of influenza circulating in the population (mortality ratio 1.16, 95% confidence interval 1.04 to 1.29 at 90th centile of circulating influenza). The association was strongest for respiratory deaths but was also present for cardiovascular deaths. In contrast, in vaccinated people mortality from any cause was not associated with circulating influenza. The difference in patterns between vaccinated and unvaccinated people could not easily be due to chance (P = 0.02, all causes).
Conclusions This study, using a novel and robust approach to control for confounding, provides robust evidence of a protective effect on mortality of vaccination against influenza.
Objective To examine the determinants of vulnerability to winter mortality in elderly British people.
Design Population based cohort study (119 389 person years of follow up).
Setting 106 general practices from the Medical Research Council trial of assessment and management of older people in Britain.
Participants People aged ≥ 75 years.
Main outcome measures Mortality (10 123 deaths) determined by follow up through the Office for National Statistics.
Results Month to month variation accounted for 17% of annual all cause mortality, but only 7.8% after adjustment for temperature. The overall winter:non-winter rate ratio was 1.31 (95% confidence interval 1.26 to 1.36). There was little evidence that this ratio varied by geographical region, age, or any of the personal, socioeconomic, or clinical factors examined, with two exceptions: after adjustment for all major covariates the winter:non-winter ratio in women compared with men was 1.11 (1.00 to 1.23), and those with a self reported history of respiratory illness had a winter:non-winter ratio of 1.20 (1.08 to 1.34) times that of people without a history of respiratory illness. There was no evidence that socioeconomic deprivation or self reported financial worries were predictive of winter death.
Conclusion Except for female sex and pre-existing respiratory illness, there was little evidence for vulnerability to winter death associated with factors thought to lead to vulnerability. The lack of socioeconomic gradient suggests that policies aimed at relief of fuel poverty may need to be supplemented by additional measures to tackle the burden of excess winter deaths in elderly people.
We compared mortality of 1,999 outdoor staff working as part of an insecticide application program during 1935-1996 with that of 1,984 outdoor workers not occupationally exposed to insecticides, and with the Australian population. Surviving subjects also completed a morbidity questionnaire. Mortality was significantly higher in both exposed and control subjects compared with the Australian population. The major cause was mortality from smoking-related diseases. Mortality was also significantly increased in exposed subjects for a number of conditions that do not appear to be the result of smoking patterns. Compared with the general Australian population, mortality over the total study period was increased for asthma [standardized mortality ratio (SMR) = 3.45; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.39-7.10] and for diabetes (SMR = 3.57; 95% CI, 1.16-8.32 for subjects working < 5 years). Mortality from pancreatic cancer was more frequent in subjects exposed to 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethane (SMR = 5.27; 95% CI, 1.09-15.40 for subjects working < 3 years). Compared with the control population, mortality from leukemia was increased in subjects working with more modern chemicals (standardized incidence ratio = 20.90; 95% CI, 1.54-284.41 for myeloid leukemia in the highest exposure group). There was also an increase in self-reported chronic illness and asthma, and lower neuropsychologic functioning scores among surviving exposed subjects when compared with controls. Diabetes was reported more commonly by subjects reporting occupational use of herbicides. These findings lend weight to other studies suggesting an association between adverse health effects and exposure to pesticides.
The apparent immune-suppressive effect of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) has suggested that this environmental exposure may influence the development of immune-related disorders. Self-reported prevalence rates of type 1 diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), eczema/dermatitis, and asthma, from the 1995 Australian National Health Survey, were therefore examined by latitude and ambient level of UVR. A positive association of type 1 diabetes mellitus prevalence was found with both increasing southern latitude of residence (r = 0.77; p = 0.026) and decreasing regional annual ambient UVR (r= -0.80; p = 0.018); a 3-fold increase in prevalence from the northernmost region to the southernmost region was evident. In contrast, asthma correlated negatively with latitude (r = -0.72; p = 0.046), although the change in asthma prevalence from the north to the south of Australia was only 0.7-fold. For both RA and eczema/dermatitis, there were no statistically significant associations between latitude/UVR and disease prevalence. These ecologic data provide some support for a previously proposed beneficial effect of UVR on T-helper 1-mediated autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes. The inverse association of type 1 diabetes prevalence with UVR is consistent with that previously reported for another autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis, in Australia, and also with type 1 diabetes latitudinal gradients in the Northern Hemisphere. The finding also accords with photoimmunologic evidence of UVR-induced immunosuppression and may suggest a beneficial effect of UVR in reducing the incidence of such autoimmune conditions. In light of this study, analytic epidemiologic studies investigating risk of immune disorders in relation to personal UVR exposure in humans are required.
Objective: To investigate the reasons for the decline in deaths attributed to ischaemic heart disease in Poland since 1991 after two decades of rising rates.
Design: Recent changes in mortality were measured as percentage deviations in 1994 from rates predicted by extrapolation of sex and age specific death rates for 1980-91 for diseases of the circulatory system and selected other categories. Available data on national and household food availability, alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, socioeconomic indices, and medical services over time were reviewed.
Main outcome measures: Age specific and age standardised rates of death attributed to ischaemic heart disease and related causes.
Results: The change in trend in mortality attributed to diseases of the circulatory system was similar in men and women and most marked (>20%) in early middle age. For ages 45 to 64 the decrease was greatest for deaths attributed to ischaemic heart disease and atherosclerosis (around 25%) and less for stroke (<10%). For most of the potentially explanatory variables considered, there were no corresponding changes in trend. However, between 1986-90 and 1994 there was a marked switch from animal fats (estimated availability down 23%) to vegetable fats (up 48%) and increased imports of fruit.
Conclusion: Reporting biases are unlikely to have exaggerated the true fall in ischaemic heart disease; neither is it likely to be mainly due to changes in smoking, drinking, stress, or medical care. Changes in type of dietary fat and increased supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables seem to be the best candidates.
Key messages Among former socialist countries Poland has undergone unusually rapid social and economic changes since 1988-9, including aspects of diet Mortality from heart disease declined sharply during 1991-4 after long term increases; mortality from stroke declined less strongly This study investigated what has changed in Poland to reduce the risks of fatal events in people with established ischaemic heart disease Candidate dietary explanations were the substitution of unsaturated for saturated fats and increased consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables
An overview is presented of epidemiologic studies of chronic diseases in the rubber industry. Analyses of the mortality experience during the period 1964-1972 of workers age 40–64 and retirees age 65–84 of two large rubber and tire manufacturing companies consistently disclosed excesses of deaths attributed to leukemia and lymphosarcoma, and for cancers of the stomach, large intestine, and prostate. The relation of site-specific malignancies to work histories and grouped occupational titles as surrogate measures of work-related exposures to possible carcinogens is described. There was no evidence of company-wide, sizable, consistent excess for the other major chronic diseases causes of death.
Although a total cohort deficit in the mortality rate for lung cancer was found, there was a history of increased frequency of exposure to certain work areas among lung cancer decedents.
Morbidity studies, including analysis of disability retirements, and ad hoc questionnaire and health testing surveys, disclosed excesses of chronic pulmonary diseases. There was evidence of an interactive effect in the association of work and smoking histories with pulmonary disability retirement.