Extreme Heat and Health: Understanding Exposures, Behaviors and Vulnerability.Extreme Heat and Health: Understanding Exposures, Behaviors and Vulnerability.

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climate change, heat and public health adaptation practices to hot weather indoors assessing heat related vulnerability using gis indoor temperature modeling for heat exposure elderly health in hot weather vulnerability mapping and public health
White-Newsome, Jalonne Lynay
Parker, Edith A. Sanchez, Brisa N. O'Neill, Marie Sylvia Jolliet, Olivier J. Dvonch, Joseph T.
The increase in the frequency of heat waves and hot weather can negatively impact the health of the elderly. Each part of this dissertation, while unique in structure, works to better understand and quantify the structural, environmental and behavioral factors that can influence heat related health concerns, specifically for elderly populations, as a result of the expected change in our climate. The first part of the dissertation examined the strength of the influence of structure and the surrounding environment on indoor temperatures in the homes of an elderly population. A mathematical model, using environmental and home-specific characteristics, was created to predict indoor temperature. Home type, access to air conditioning and the external construction material of the home were all found to be significant. Part two of the dissertation examined behaviors the elderly used to adapt to hot indoor temperatures during the summertime. Elderly volunteers recorded in a daily activity log how they stayed cool, using any of the following eight heat-adaptive behaviors: opening windows/doors, turning fans or the air conditioner on, changing clothes, taking a shower, going to the basement and/or the porch/yard, or leaving the house. It was found that fewer adaptive behaviors were used by the elderly at higher indoor temperatures. The results of part one and two of this dissertation helped to quantify indoor temperature exposure and adaptive behavior use in the home. Part three of this dissertation examined another data source that could be used to quantify ambient temperature exposure while identifying urban neighborhood hot spots. Land surface temperatures were derived from Landsat TM-5 satellite images and compared with air surface temperatures collected by a ground based temperature monitoring network. The satellite derived land surface temperatures were not strongly correlated with the surface air temperatures collected on the ground. Overall, results suggest that structural and behavioral vulnerability to heat should be integrated into existing public health interventions or programming, especially those directed at the elderly population. For satellite data sources to be useful in public health practice, both significant advances in data availability and training for public health practitioners on using remote sensing data are essential. 
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