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Environ Health Perspect. 2017 Aug 1;125(8):085001. doi: 10.1289/EHP556.

Opportunities and Challenges for Personal Heat Exposure Research.

Author information

1
Center for Policy Informatics, Arizona State University , Phoenix, Arizona, USA.
2
Department of Environmental Conservation, University of Massachusetts , Amherst, Massachusetts, USA.
3
Department of Population Health Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University , Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.
4
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington , Seattle, Washington, USA.
5
Department of Global Health, University of Washington , Seattle, Washington, USA.
6
Department of Medicine, University of Washington , Seattle, Washington, USA.
7
Department of Public Health, University of Tennessee , Knoxville, Tennessee, USA.
8
Public Health Division, Oregon Health Authority , Portland, Oregon, USA.
9
School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University , Tempe, Arizona, USA.
10
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Johns Hopkins University , Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
11
Department of Geography, Florida State University , Tallahassee, Florida, USA.
12
Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California , San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Environmental heat exposure is a public health concern. The impacts of environmental heat on mortality and morbidity at the population scale are well documented, but little is known about specific exposures that individuals experience.

OBJECTIVES:

The first objective of this work was to catalyze discussion of the role of personal heat exposure information in research and risk assessment. The second objective was to provide guidance regarding the operationalization of personal heat exposure research methods.

DISCUSSION:

We define personal heat exposure as realized contact between a person and an indoor or outdoor environment that poses a risk of increases in body core temperature and/or perceived discomfort. Personal heat exposure can be measured directly with wearable monitors or estimated indirectly through the combination of time-activity and meteorological data sets. Complementary information to understand individual-scale drivers of behavior, susceptibility, and health and comfort outcomes can be collected from additional monitors, surveys, interviews, ethnographic approaches, and additional social and health data sets. Personal exposure research can help reveal the extent of exposure misclassification that occurs when individual exposure to heat is estimated using ambient temperature measured at fixed sites and can provide insights for epidemiological risk assessment concerning extreme heat.

CONCLUSIONS:

Personal heat exposure research provides more valid and precise insights into how often people encounter heat conditions and when, where, to whom, and why these encounters occur. Published literature on personal heat exposure is limited to date, but existing studies point to opportunities to inform public health practice regarding extreme heat, particularly where fine-scale precision is needed to reduce health consequences of heat exposure. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP556.

PMID:
28796630
PMCID:
PMC5783663
DOI:
10.1289/EHP556
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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