Human health, indoor environments, extreme heat

Christopher K. Uejio

In the U.S., extreme heat kills more people than hurricanes or any other weather hazard. Many victims succumb to heat inside of their own homes. Older adults and people with medical conditions are the most vulnerable. People in low-income households are also at high risk because they spend as much as 16% of their total income on electricity, forcing them to conserve by cutting back on air conditioning. Temperatures inside buildings without air conditioning are often more oppressive than outdoor temperatures.

The study will seek to answer three questions. First, what building characteristics increase indoor heat exposure? Second, are people who live in hotter buildings more likely to report extreme heat health problems? Third, how will future climate change increase indoor heat exposures? As part of the study, paramedics will carry portable temperature and humidity sensors during their normal operations to gauge conditions in places where people seek emergency care for complications due to extreme heat. The results can direct interventions to the most vulnerable people and improve official heat warnings. The study will also identify how future temperature increases may constrain the options to cope with extreme heat.

Florida State University will lead the project in collaboration with the University of Iowa, Fire Department of the City of New York, and Grady Emergency Medical Service in Atlanta, GA. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the three-year research grant.

  • Principal Investigator: Christopher K. Uejio (Florida State University Geography Department and Program in Public Health)
  • Co-Investigator: James D. Tamerius (University of Iowa Geographical and Sustainability Sciences)