Sheridan SC, Kalkstein AJ, Kalkstein LS

Natural Hazards

Published date July 1, 2009

Trends in heat-related mortality in the United States, 1975-2004

  • Addresses the long-term trends in heat-related mortality across 29 US metropolitan areas from 1975 to 2004 to discern the spatial patterns and temporal trends in heat vulnerability
  • Standardizes mortality data to account for population trends, and seasonal and interannual variability 
  • Calculates mean anomalous mortality along with the likelihood that oppressive days led to a mortality response at least one standard deviation above the baseline value, on days when a city experienced an "oppressive" air mass
  • Results show a general decline in heat-related mortality from the 1970s to 1990s, after which the decline seems to have abated
  • Finds that the likelihood of oppressive days leading to significant increases in mortality has shown less of a decline
  • Finds the number of oppressive days has stayed the same or increased at most metropolitan areas
  • Concludes that with US homes near saturation in terms of air-conditioning availability, an aging population is still significantly vulnerable to heat events