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Surviving and thriving in the heat: evidencing heat impacts and management for exposed occupations in and beyond the workplace

National University of Singapore | 2020-2023

Working people are particularly vulnerable to environmental heat. We will study the complex threat heat exposures pose to human health, wellbeing and productivity in working populations in Singapore and other tropical countries (Vietnam and Cambodia), and to identify sustainable preventive policies and actions that can reduce these impacts.

European Heat Health System

ISGlobal | 2020

The Climate and Health Program (CLIMA) of the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) is working to build a prototype of heat health early warning system for Europe. This unified pan-European service will be adapted to all European societies by using daily meteorological and mortality data to account for the regional differences in human vulnerability and societal adaptation to climate variability and change. The development of this epidemiological surveillance tool is aimed at contributing to a better monitoring and forecasting system of temperature-related health risks. The system will provide more realistic warnings, raising awareness and support public health management and decision making.

PREP: Protection Resilience Efficiency and Prevention for workers in industrial agriculture in a changing climate

University of Birmingham | 2021 - 2023

For over three decades, an epidemic of chronic kidney disease (CKD), not related to well-known risk factors like diabetes and hypertension, and thus named CKD of unknown origin (CKDu) has been detected in agricultural and other heavy labourers in Central America, especially sugarcane workers. CKDu is also increasingly observed in manual rural workers in other hot regions, such as Sri Lanka, India, and Egypt.

There are probably multiple risk factors for CKDu, as for most non-communicable diseases, but there is a growing body of evidence that labour practices, specifically strenuous work in heat without sufficient rest or hydration, is an important driver of the disease. Thus, this disease can be seen as having a direct link to climate change and is likely to become even more prevalent in the near future unless workplace heat stress is mitigated. As a response to this disease, members of the current project consortia have collectively implemented the Adelante Initiative at a large sugarcane mill in Nicaragua. Adelante is a scientific evaluation of workplace interventions that focus on adequate water and rest in shade together with improved ergonomics, aiming to prevent CKDu in workers while preserving productivity. The PREP program will build on the Adelante Initiative and will have three different themes:

I. To evaluate the immediate and long-term impact of a Water, Rest, and Shade intervention on workforce health (kidney health and heat related symptoms) and productivity in the sugar industry;

II. To examine the economic and social impacts on individuals, families, communities, the company and health systems affected by CKDu and whether workplace interventions to reduce heat stress and the risk for CKDu aids resilience, including mitigating migration pressures;

III. To examine the policies, or absence of policies (at multiple administrative scales) that have contributed to the CKDu disease and what policies are required to effectively address it in a future changing climate.

This program is an interdisciplinary effort that brings together researchers with expertise in occupational hygiene, medicine, health economics, plus social and political sciences. The research methods range from advanced physiological measurements, focus groups and interviews, document analysis, to semi-structured interviews and participatory workshops. Using this coordinated, interdisciplinary approach we will evaluate how occupational health and safety interventions affects worker’s health at an individual level as well as the social and economic effects in the local community, and company return-of-investment.

Together with workers, management, certifying institutions, national authorities, and consumers we will build toolkits and educational materials for those affected and those wishing to improve protection for workers in industrial agricultural and other manual outdoor work. Our findings will be broadly shared via scientific communications, workshops with worker/management, production of web-based material, films for the general public, and collaboration with media. PREP will enhance our knowledge on risk factors for CKDu in industrial agricultural workers in a hot climate, and produce evidence-based toolkits and other educational material for prevention of heat stress and its consequences, directed to the industry, governments and other stakeholders. By furthering our understanding of where and who are affected, while providing viable solutions, we can help governments and industry take a proactive and cost-effective approach to address CKDu and its associated challenges. There is a need to demonstrate that such an investment will be more economical than suffering the social and economic impact of doing nothing or inadequately attempting to treat an issue that is likely to get worse in a warming world.

Protecting Urban Livelihoods from Climate Change - Building Heat Stress Resilience amongst Da Nang City's most Vulnerable Workers

COHED | 2013-2016

The overarching goal of this project was to protect the livelihoods of low-income workers as climate change leads to increased temperatures in Da Nang city. Specifically, the project aspired to increase the resilience of vulnerable urban workers to heat stress and thereby contribute to the resilience of the city as a whole.

The effect of cool roofs on health, environmental and economic outcomes in rural Africa

Heidelberg Institute of Global Health | 2020 - 2022

The long-term research goal is to identify viable passive housing adaptation technologies with proven health and environmental benefits to reduce the burden of heat stress in communities affected by heat in Africa. As a next step towards this goal, the project proposes to conduct a household-randomized controlled trial (RCT) in Nouna, Burkina Faso to: (i) establish the effect of the cool roof on the primary endpoint heart rate (as an indicator of physiological stress) and (ii) quantify the effects of the cool roof on a range of secondary endpoints, including indoor temperature, indoor humidity, cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, household energy consumption, and socioeconomic outcomes.

The High-Impact Weather Project (HIWeather)

World Meteorological Organization | ongoing

The High-Impact Weather project (HIWeather) is a ten year activity within the World Weather Research Programme to promote cooperative international research to achieve a dramatic increase in resilience to high impact weather, worldwide, through improving forecasts for timescales of minutes to two weeks and enhancing their communication and utility in social, economic and environmental applications.

Urban health and climate resilience in India

Taru Leading Edge; ICLEI; CDKN | 2019 - 2020

This project aims to design an air pollution and heatwave management toolkit, school environmental monitoring program and engage with targeted national and city level governmental and non-governmental actors to support its uptake in development planning. The project is coordinated by Taru Leading Edge and ICLEI South Asia, in partnership with CDKN, and was launched in India in July 2019.

Urban Heat Island Community Science Campaigns

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | 2017 - present

NOAA, in a public-private partnership with CAPA Strartegies, LLC, runs annual community science Urban Heat Island mapping campaigns in cities across the United States. Each year, lea organizations in cities apply for core support funding for this activity. Residents of participating cities use low-cost in-situ sensors attached to their cars to drive transects and sample urban temperatures at a height of 2m. The in-situ data are combined with satellite data in a machine learning model to develop an estimate of the urban heat island intensity across the city. The outputs of the project are open source, and the outcomes of the project include community science engagement, education, and usable datasets showing the distribution of urban heat island intensity across the city.

VUCRA- France

CIRED ANR | 2009-2012

Le projet VURCA étudie la vulnérabilité des villes à des épisodes futurs de canicules, afin de proposer des stratégies d’adaptation.

Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa

UKMet Office

The UK Met Office’s Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) programme’s mission is to make a step change in the quality, accessibility and use of weather and climate information services at all levels of decision making for sustainable development in Africa.

The Met Office has been commissioned by the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to act as fund manager for the East Africa component of the programme, focussing on the Lake Victoria Basin and surrounding region (Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda). This component aims to improve the quality and relevance of weather and climate information and support its uptake and use.

Under the East Africa component five quick-start projects using WISER funding were commissioned in late 2015 and commenced work early in 2016. A further series of projects began in 2017. In the commissioning of new projects, applications will be invited to access WISER funding in line with the WISER strategy. Details of any open application rounds can be found on our WISER programme opportunities page.

For information on projects under the Policy & Enabling Environment Component (PEEC) please visit the ClimDev-Africa website.

World Weather Research Programme

World Meteorological Organization | ongoing

The World Weather Research Programme (WWRP) is the WMO’s international programme for advancing and promoting research activities on weather, its prediction and its impact on society. The improvements in science and operational predictions are driven by international cooperation, and in turn international cooperation in weather science is a unique opportunity to drive sustainable development.

Yale Programme on Climate Change Communication

Yale University

The Yale Programme on Climate Change Communication conducts scientific research on public climate change knowledge, attitudes, policy preferences, and behavior, and the underlying psychological, cultural, and political factors that influence them. They also engage the public in climate change science and solutions, in partnership with governments, media organizations, companies, and civil society, and with a daily, national radio program, Yale Climate Connections.

World Urban Database: Census of Global Cities

The World Urban Database and Access Portal Tools project is a community-based project to gather a census of cities around the world.

The overall aims of WUDAPT are to:

  • use the Local Climate Zone (LCZ) classification framework as the starting point for characterizing cities in a consistent manner
  • use Geo-Wiki to sample land cover and land use types across LCZs (e.g. impervious surfaces (buildings, roads, other), pervious surfaces, grassland, etc.)
  • develop tools (online and mobile-based) to obtain other parameters such as building materials, building dimensions, canopy widths, etc.
  • provide open access to this dataset so that researchers around the world can use the data for many different types of applications, from climate and weather modeling to energy balance studies
  • provide basic tools in the portal to allows researchers to aggregate the data to a user-specified reference grid (resolution and starting location) and compare cities around the world.

For WUDAPT to work, we need to build a community of interested urban experts and interested researchers who will take active part by:

  • using the training materials to classify your city into LCZs
  • contributing your LCZ map to WUDAPT
  • helping us to collect other parameters using the online and mobile-based tools that will be developed.

Electric vehicles’ health and climate benefits in China and India

Peking University, China | 2020 - 2023

Electric vehicles (EVs) are a promising solution for sustainable transport. However, making EVs a sustainable solution depends on a variety of factors such as the carbon footprint of the electricity mix.

We will focus on two major emerging markets – China and India – to investigate the conditions under which EVs can provide co-benefits for air quality, health and climate change. The growth of EVs relies on curbing the use of coal power plants, building new infrastructure and shifting consumer preferences. We will help develop solutions for these challenges by evaluating the relative importance of country-specific factors such as subsidies, regulations around EVs and the price of electricity. We will design a series of scenarios to represent these key factors and use an integrated assessment modelling method combining emissions analysis, air quality modelling and health impact assessment.

Our findings could inform policy to unlock the air quality, health and climate co-benefits of EVs in China and India.

ACASIS : Alerte aux Canicules Au Sahel et à leurs Impacts sur la Santé

IRD | 2014 -2018

The main objective of ACASIS is to set-up a pre-operational heat wave warning system over West Africa tailored to health risks of the population living in this region. This is a demonstration project focused on Senegal and Burkina Faso where national weather services have already started developing products dedicated to weather/climate and health relationships, and where several health and demographic observatories have been operating for up to several decades.

Air pollution, heat and health in Brazil under climate change

Yale University, USA | 2020 - 2023

This project will estimate air pollution (fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone), heat waves, and days of high or low temperatures under present day conditions and in the future under climate change for two major Brazilian cities. The project will also develop estimates of how weather and air pollution impact mortality in Brazil.

ASSAR project (Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions)

University of Cape Town | 2014-2018

The five-year ASSAR project (Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions, 2014-2018) uses insights from multi-scale, interdisciplinary work to inform and transform climate adaptation policy and practice in ways that promote the long-term wellbeing of the most vulnerable and those with the least agency.

Working in 7 countries in the semi-arid regions of India, and East, Southern and West Africa, we focused our case studies on regionally-relevant, socio-ecological risks and dynamics relating to livelihoods, and resource access, use, and management.

CHAMNHA Climate, heat and maternal and neonatal health in Africa

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine | 2020 - 2022

CHAMNHA is led by a transdisciplinary team from 3 continents, spanning the natural, health and social sciences, and will address key knowledge gaps around heat and Maternal and Neonatal Health (MNH) in sub-Saharan Africa.

Abstract

The frequency and intensity of heat waves have increased in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and are set to escalate in the coming decades. Heatwaves present major health threats, especially for vulnerable population groups, such as those with limited socio-economic resources or compromised physiological ability to respond to heat stress. Pregnant women and neonates (<28 days after birth) have a unique set of health vulnerabilities, particularly in low- and lower-middle income countries (LLMICs), where pregnancy and childbirth are often highly precarious. Heat exposure complicates Maternal and Neonatal Health (MNH), increasing risks for maternal haemorrhage and sepsis, prematurity, low birth weight and neonatal dehydration. Few studies have assessed these impacts in sub-Saharan Africa, where maternal and neonatal deaths are frequent, facilities experience high indoor temperatures, health systems have low adaptive capacity and access to services is increasingly disrupted by climate events.

The proposed study (CHAMNHA) is led by a transdisciplinary team from 3 continents, spanning the natural, health and social sciences, and will address key knowledge gaps around heat and MNH in SSA in collaboration with stakeholders, employing qualitative and quantitative methods, implementation and evaluation science, and climate impact methods. The project is divided into three work packages (WP). WP1 will quantify impacts of heat exposure on MNH outcomes, using trial data, birth cohorts and other data sources from SSA, Norway and Sweden. We will characterize these impacts and identify sub-groups at high-risk. In WP2, qualitative research will document perceptions and local practices relating to heat exposure in pregnant women and neonates in Burkina Faso and Kenya. Then, in conjunction with pregnant women, male partners and health workers, we will co-design community- and facility-based interventions, such as improving preparedness for heat, e.g. through warning systems; changing behaviours and health worker practices to reduce heat impacts on MNH; training birth companions and traditional birth attendants on heat reduction during childbirth; and promoting breastfeeding and optimised hydration for women and neonates. WP3 will test the acceptability, feasibility and effectiveness of selected interventions using a randomized design (Kenya) and pre-post study design (Burkina Faso). In WP4, building on established collaborations with stakeholders, ministries of health and WHO, we will translate research findings into recommendations for improved MNH practice in the health sector, and national adaptation planning to reduce the current and future impacts of climate change on MNH

Co-benefits of climate actions for air and health in India

Natural Resources Defense Council | 2020 - 2023

Using an interdisciplinary modelling approach, this project will quantify the air quality and health co-benefits of mitigation and adaptation policies in Ahmedabad, India in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute, Public Health Foundation of India and the Natural Resources Defense Council. It will estimate the total electricity demand in 2030, considering climate change and demand for air conditioning. It will model and compare air quality associated with two climate change response strategies: shifting fossil fuel use to solar energy; and expanding cool roof/green landcover interventions. It will also use air quality estimates to calculate health co-benefits in 2030, relative to a 2018 baseline and a 2030 business-as-usual scenario.

Deepening and Expanding Heat Health Action in India

CDKN | 2014 - 2016

In 2013, the city of Ahmedabad, in Gujarat State, India, adopted and started implementing the first Heat Action Plan in South Asia. Based on learning from the project’s first phase, and interest from other state and municipal governments in India, the next phase was building on this momentum to deepen and expand action on extreme heat.

Evaluation of Heat Wave Related Mortality and Adaptation Measures in Switzerland

Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute

The heat wave in 2003 caused approximately 7% more deaths. As a result, the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health developed an information campaign for the behaviour during heat waves which has been adopted by various cantonal health authorities.

Objectives

1) Assessment of preventive measures which have been recommended or implemented by various stakeholders (communities, cantons, confederacy, MeteoSuisse, international authorities) to reduce heat-related mortality.

2) Analysis of the effect of heat waves on mortality in Switzerland on the basis of empirical data on a national level and stratified by region. The hypothesis will be tested the effect of comparable heat episodes on mortality is reduced since 2003.

3) Evaluation of regional adopted measures on the heat-related excess mortality in single cantons/regions where preventive measures have already been implemented.

4) Identification of the meteorological indicator which best describes the heat effect on mortality and identification of the highest groups at risk.

5) Preparation and dissemination of epidemiological studies on the topic for interested stakeholders with newsletters and workshops.

Methods

In a first step an assessment of the adopted and recommended measures aiming to reduce heat-related mortality will be executed. In a second step, Swiss mortality data (1990-2012) from the Federal Office of Statistics will be linked with the corresponding regional meteorological data provided by MeteoSwiss. The heat-related excess mortality will be investigated using Poisson regression analysis. Furthermore, various meteorological indicators will be investigated for the health effect of heat episodes. An important part of the project addresses the knowledge transfer. During the project, new relevant epidemiological studies will be identified, summarized and evaluated regarding to the practice. Information is made available to the relevant agencies and stakeholders by means of a newsletter.

Expectations

The project will provide an overview of adaptation measures for the prevention of heat-related mortality. It will show which meteorological parameters have the greatest effect on mortality and which age groups are particularly affected. The projects will generate evidence whether an increased sensitivity to the issue and adopted measures in the recent years had an impact on the extent of heat-related mortality.

EXHAUSTION project

CICERO | 2019-2023

The EXHAUSTION project aims to quantify the changes in cardiopulmonary mortality and morbidity due to extreme heat and air pollution (including from wildfires) under selected climate scenarios.

EXHAUSTION will address key knowledge gaps as listed by IPCC, including the following:

  • Published health risk projections do not properly account for adaptation.
  • There is a lack of knowledge and appropriate models regarding possible interactive effects of extreme heat and air pollution.
  • Quantitative projections of the costs associated with the health risks are suffering from a simplified modelling of the complex relationship between climatic and non-climatic factors, human health, and the socio-economic consequences.

EXHAUSTION will advance on these issues–adaptation, interactive effects, and socio-economic costs – and quantify the changes in cardiopulmonary disease under selected climate scenarios while including a diverse set of adaptation mechanisms and measures, calculate the associated costs, and identify effective interventions for minimizing adverse impacts. The EXHAUSTION consortium is multidisciplinary, encompassing specialists in climate and air quality modelling, cardiopulmonary medicine, epidemiology, health impact assessment, economics, and science communication. Moreover, the Consortium is pan-European, with participation of 14 partners from 10 countries in Europe and representing the territories subject of study in the project.

EXHAUSTION is a EU-funded research project led by CICERO Center for International Climate Research (Norway), and includes 13 other research institutions and partners: University of Oslo (Norway), Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Norway), Aarhus University (Denmark), Helmholtz Zentrum München (Germany), University of Porto (Portugal), National Meteorological Administration (Romania), National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (UK), Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (Luxembourg), Department of Epidemiology of the Lazio Region Health Service in Roma (Italy), Finnish Meteorological Institute (Finland), InfoDesignLab AS (Norway), DRAXIS Environmental S.A. (Greece).

EXTREMA

National Observatory of Athens | 2017- present

EXTREMA’s main objectives are to raise awareness, facilitate prevention and protect health from the adverse effects of climate change. EXTREMA is a DG ECHO funded project, 2018-2019, GA 783180.

Forecast-based Financing to Reduce Heatwave Vulnerability in Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnam Red Cross | 2018 - 2020

The project focuses on heat waves in Hanoi and is the first FbF project to focus on extreme events in urban areas. In Hanoi the average daily temperatures have risen in recent years; past heatwaves have led to a 20.0% increase in hospital admissions for all causes and 45.9% for respiratory diseases. One main element of the project is the identification of early actions that can reduce these health impacts of heatwaves, with a special focus on groups that are particularly affected like the elderly. Research, consultation with experts and field assessments are currently under way.

Green spaces, air pollution and climate-related heat mortality in Latin American cities

University of California, Berkeley | 2020 - 2023

An interdisciplinary research team will use a mortality database for urban residents in nine Latin American countries to examine the impact of climate change, particularly extreme heat events, on urban population mortality. They will also examine the modifying effect of green space and fine particulate matter on the association between heat events and mortality.

Health and economic impacts of reducing overheating in cities (HEROIC)

University of Oxford | 2020 - 2023

This project will take an interdisciplinary approach to quantify the health impact of changes to urban green infrastructure, and develop an environment and health economics tool, focusing on international cities, including London, Beijing and Nairobi.

HEAT (Heat Emergency Awareness and Treatment Bundle) Trial

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Aga Khan University; Aman Foundation; Elrha | 2016 - 2019

The purpose of this study is to develop and test a set of interventions to reduce the impact of extreme heat on urban low-income populations.

HEAT-SHIELD

The Horizon 2020 research project is dedicated to address the negative impact of increased workplace heat stress on the health and productivity of five strategic European industries: manufacturing, construction, transportation, tourism and agriculture.

HEATCOST Health effects and associated socio-economic costs of increasing temperatures and wildfires - A global assessment

CICERO, Norway | 2023 - 2023

HEATCOST will quantify health risks attributable to heat and air pollution (with a particular focus on air pollution from wildfires) in main world regions under selected climate scenarios and socioeconomic pathways.

LUCID - Local Urban Climate Model and its Application to the Intelligent Design of Cities

EPSRC

LUCID is developing, testing and applying state-of-the-art methods for calculating local climate in the urban environment. The impact on the internal built environment, energy use and the consequences for health will then be explored. The implications for urban planning will be considered in detail.

Managing heat stress among Bangladesh ready-made clothing industry workers

Griffith University, Australia | 2019 - 2023

This study is exploring how low- to moderate-cost interventions can alleviate the impact of high temperatures and humidity in ready-made garment factories in preparation for further climate change. It compares the use of green or white roofs and actively-managed fan-assisted cross-ventilation, compared to no interventions and air-conditioning. Climate-controlled chambers, computer-based modelling temperature monitoring, and worker interviews will be used to explore perceptions of discomfort caused by heat. Findings will help estimate when it will be necessary to invest in interventions and how effective they can be.

MCC Collaborative Research Network

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

The Multi-City Multi-Country (MCC) network is an international collaboration of research teams working on a program aiming to produce epidemiological evidence on associations between weather and health. Interest on this topic has grown in the last few years among both researchers and the general public, due to recent events of extreme weather and alarming climate change scenarios, both linked with increased health risks.The research program benefits from the use of the largest dataset ever assembled for this purpose, including information from hundreds of locations within several countries. This allows standardized analyses on local data to address specific research questions on global weather-health associations, following a formalized yet flexible method of collaboration. The MCC network has developed during the years, through correspondence between the participants and additional meetings held at other scientific conferences.

Methods and tools to integrate air quality and health into urban climate action planning

George Washington University, USA | 2019-2023

Many greenhouse gas mitigation actions also benefit air quality and health but assessment of these co-benefits has been limited. Over the next several years, C40 Cities will be working with city governments to develop climate action plans. They will integrate a screening-level air quality model focusing on particulate matter into C40’s climate action planning tool, Pathways, for at least three pilot cities. They will test the tool to explore air quality and health co-benefits of climate action pathways. We will also assess the potential for quantifying additional health co-benefits, such as changes in ozone, nitrogen dioxide levels, physical activity, noise and green space. Data and tools will be publicly available to support additional research into links between climate and health. Their work will build a bridge between scientific evidence on co-benefits to the largest urban climate action planning effort worldwide. Pathways will create a platform to study more cities and enable long-term integration of health co-benefits into climate action planning in cities.

Mitigation of climate change-induced occupational health and productivity problems

National University of Singapore | 2020-

This project will study the complex threat heat exposures pose to human health, wellbeing and productivity in working populations in Singapore and other tropical countries, and to identify sustainable preventive policies and actions that can reduce these impacts. Working people are particularly vulnerable to environmental heat because of their added internal heat production from muscle work. Singapore’s equatorial location means working populations are already chronically exposed to hot conditions (WBGT > 25°C) which are considered detrimental to health and wellbeing. These conditions require people working or engaged in exercise outdoors to take frequent rest and cooling breaks to protect health, If workers cannot or do not take rest in relation to heat stress, serious health effects can occur, including heat stroke death. Such conditions also affect productivity, which is reduced by 15% of potential annual work hours in the sun and by 4% if working in the shade.

Singapore has begun to tackle these issues by supporting mitigation and adaptation to extreme heat associated with climate change and with the urban heat island effect through research focused on public health and urban design. However, heat-health is a complex socioenvironmental problem that transgresses institutional, sectoral and disciplinary boundaries of public and occupational health and the domains of workplace, public space and the home. As such, there is a need to complement these efforts through the provision of a programme focussed on occupational exposures and their knock-on effects to support the overall effectiveness of Singaporean investments in heat-health risk management. Exposed work occurs in outdoor settings, but semi-enclosed workspaces, such as sheds or roofed workshops, can also present very hot thermal environments where cooling systems are inefficient, air conditioning cannot be used for financial or other reasons, and/or additional heat sources are present. These conditions are typical of many industries, including construction, shipping and utilities, including oil and gas transport and storage.

There is also limited evidence available concerning occupational heat exposures, and the impact of age, body mass index, physical fitness, and sex (e.g. pregnancy) on these effects, or their broader effects, such as prolonged discomfort, and mental stress, familial relationships and special health concerns, such as fertility. Improved knowledge is essential for the development of effective prevention programs. The researchers will pursue a multi-disciplinary approach uniquely positioned to address direct occupational heat exposures and impacts on health and productivity, but also the broader health and wellbeing implications that have yet to be comprehensively addressed in chronically heat-exposed countries such as Singapore. For example, physical fitness is one of the best ways of increasing heat tolerance as well as overall health. Ironically, the high heat levels in Singapore do not only discourage engagement in physical exercise, but can also be a direct health threat for people involved in sports and exercise. We will also review and test methods for analysing the most extreme effects of heat, including heat related mortality.

By following impacts on workers as well as workplaces, the study will trace how heat-health impacts emerge through exposure and exertion as a result of behaviours shaped by the climatic, urban, occupational and social environments they traverse every day. Such integrated analysis is required in order to develop policy responses that take into account the spatial and social situation of why heat-health impacts occur and how they can be managed as part of the everyday lives of chronically exposed populations. This also allows for the identification, analysis and management of ‘knock-on’ effects of occupational heat exposures on recreational and domestic life (and vice versa), including psychosocial and physiological impacts on exercise behaviours and fitness, family relationships, mental health and wellbeing and fertility rates. As our focus is on heat effects on working people, one secondary outcome of excessive heat exposure will be economic losses at individual, enterprise, community and national level due to a reduction of labour productivity due to heat. Our analysis will compare such economic impacts of heat to the costs of potential methods for climate change mitigation in selected countries. This will provide new estimates of the value of different alternatives in future climate change policy development.

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Surviving and thriving in the heat: evidencing heat impacts and management for exposed occupations in and beyond the workplace

National University of Singapore | 2020-2023

Working people are particularly vulnerable to environmental heat. We will study the complex threat heat exposures pose to human health, wellbeing and productivity in working populations in Singapore and other tropical countries (Vietnam and Cambodia), and to identify sustainable preventive policies and actions that can reduce these impacts.

European Heat Health System

ISGlobal | 2020

The Climate and Health Program (CLIMA) of the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) is working to build a prototype of heat health early warning system for Europe. This unified pan-European service will be adapted to all European societies by using daily meteorological and mortality data to account for the regional differences in human vulnerability and societal adaptation to climate variability and change. The development of this epidemiological surveillance tool is aimed at contributing to a better monitoring and forecasting system of temperature-related health risks. The system will provide more realistic warnings, raising awareness and support public health management and decision making.

PREP: Protection Resilience Efficiency and Prevention for workers in industrial agriculture in a changing climate

University of Birmingham | 2021 - 2023

For over three decades, an epidemic of chronic kidney disease (CKD), not related to well-known risk factors like diabetes and hypertension, and thus named CKD of unknown origin (CKDu) has been detected in agricultural and other heavy labourers in Central America, especially sugarcane workers. CKDu is also increasingly observed in manual rural workers in other hot regions, such as Sri Lanka, India, and Egypt.

There are probably multiple risk factors for CKDu, as for most non-communicable diseases, but there is a growing body of evidence that labour practices, specifically strenuous work in heat without sufficient rest or hydration, is an important driver of the disease. Thus, this disease can be seen as having a direct link to climate change and is likely to become even more prevalent in the near future unless workplace heat stress is mitigated. As a response to this disease, members of the current project consortia have collectively implemented the Adelante Initiative at a large sugarcane mill in Nicaragua. Adelante is a scientific evaluation of workplace interventions that focus on adequate water and rest in shade together with improved ergonomics, aiming to prevent CKDu in workers while preserving productivity. The PREP program will build on the Adelante Initiative and will have three different themes:

I. To evaluate the immediate and long-term impact of a Water, Rest, and Shade intervention on workforce health (kidney health and heat related symptoms) and productivity in the sugar industry;

II. To examine the economic and social impacts on individuals, families, communities, the company and health systems affected by CKDu and whether workplace interventions to reduce heat stress and the risk for CKDu aids resilience, including mitigating migration pressures;

III. To examine the policies, or absence of policies (at multiple administrative scales) that have contributed to the CKDu disease and what policies are required to effectively address it in a future changing climate.

This program is an interdisciplinary effort that brings together researchers with expertise in occupational hygiene, medicine, health economics, plus social and political sciences. The research methods range from advanced physiological measurements, focus groups and interviews, document analysis, to semi-structured interviews and participatory workshops. Using this coordinated, interdisciplinary approach we will evaluate how occupational health and safety interventions affects worker’s health at an individual level as well as the social and economic effects in the local community, and company return-of-investment.

Together with workers, management, certifying institutions, national authorities, and consumers we will build toolkits and educational materials for those affected and those wishing to improve protection for workers in industrial agricultural and other manual outdoor work. Our findings will be broadly shared via scientific communications, workshops with worker/management, production of web-based material, films for the general public, and collaboration with media. PREP will enhance our knowledge on risk factors for CKDu in industrial agricultural workers in a hot climate, and produce evidence-based toolkits and other educational material for prevention of heat stress and its consequences, directed to the industry, governments and other stakeholders. By furthering our understanding of where and who are affected, while providing viable solutions, we can help governments and industry take a proactive and cost-effective approach to address CKDu and its associated challenges. There is a need to demonstrate that such an investment will be more economical than suffering the social and economic impact of doing nothing or inadequately attempting to treat an issue that is likely to get worse in a warming world.

Protecting Urban Livelihoods from Climate Change - Building Heat Stress Resilience amongst Da Nang City's most Vulnerable Workers

COHED | 2013-2016

The overarching goal of this project was to protect the livelihoods of low-income workers as climate change leads to increased temperatures in Da Nang city. Specifically, the project aspired to increase the resilience of vulnerable urban workers to heat stress and thereby contribute to the resilience of the city as a whole.

The effect of cool roofs on health, environmental and economic outcomes in rural Africa

Heidelberg Institute of Global Health | 2020 - 2022

The long-term research goal is to identify viable passive housing adaptation technologies with proven health and environmental benefits to reduce the burden of heat stress in communities affected by heat in Africa. As a next step towards this goal, the project proposes to conduct a household-randomized controlled trial (RCT) in Nouna, Burkina Faso to: (i) establish the effect of the cool roof on the primary endpoint heart rate (as an indicator of physiological stress) and (ii) quantify the effects of the cool roof on a range of secondary endpoints, including indoor temperature, indoor humidity, cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, household energy consumption, and socioeconomic outcomes.

The High-Impact Weather Project (HIWeather)

World Meteorological Organization | ongoing

The High-Impact Weather project (HIWeather) is a ten year activity within the World Weather Research Programme to promote cooperative international research to achieve a dramatic increase in resilience to high impact weather, worldwide, through improving forecasts for timescales of minutes to two weeks and enhancing their communication and utility in social, economic and environmental applications.

Urban health and climate resilience in India

Taru Leading Edge; ICLEI; CDKN | 2019 - 2020

This project aims to design an air pollution and heatwave management toolkit, school environmental monitoring program and engage with targeted national and city level governmental and non-governmental actors to support its uptake in development planning. The project is coordinated by Taru Leading Edge and ICLEI South Asia, in partnership with CDKN, and was launched in India in July 2019.

Urban Heat Island Community Science Campaigns

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | 2017 - present

NOAA, in a public-private partnership with CAPA Strartegies, LLC, runs annual community science Urban Heat Island mapping campaigns in cities across the United States. Each year, lea organizations in cities apply for core support funding for this activity. Residents of participating cities use low-cost in-situ sensors attached to their cars to drive transects and sample urban temperatures at a height of 2m. The in-situ data are combined with satellite data in a machine learning model to develop an estimate of the urban heat island intensity across the city. The outputs of the project are open source, and the outcomes of the project include community science engagement, education, and usable datasets showing the distribution of urban heat island intensity across the city.

VUCRA- France

CIRED ANR | 2009-2012

Le projet VURCA étudie la vulnérabilité des villes à des épisodes futurs de canicules, afin de proposer des stratégies d’adaptation.

Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa

UKMet Office

The UK Met Office’s Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) programme’s mission is to make a step change in the quality, accessibility and use of weather and climate information services at all levels of decision making for sustainable development in Africa.

The Met Office has been commissioned by the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to act as fund manager for the East Africa component of the programme, focussing on the Lake Victoria Basin and surrounding region (Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda). This component aims to improve the quality and relevance of weather and climate information and support its uptake and use.

Under the East Africa component five quick-start projects using WISER funding were commissioned in late 2015 and commenced work early in 2016. A further series of projects began in 2017. In the commissioning of new projects, applications will be invited to access WISER funding in line with the WISER strategy. Details of any open application rounds can be found on our WISER programme opportunities page.

For information on projects under the Policy & Enabling Environment Component (PEEC) please visit the ClimDev-Africa website.

World Weather Research Programme

World Meteorological Organization | ongoing

The World Weather Research Programme (WWRP) is the WMO’s international programme for advancing and promoting research activities on weather, its prediction and its impact on society. The improvements in science and operational predictions are driven by international cooperation, and in turn international cooperation in weather science is a unique opportunity to drive sustainable development.

Yale Programme on Climate Change Communication

Yale University

The Yale Programme on Climate Change Communication conducts scientific research on public climate change knowledge, attitudes, policy preferences, and behavior, and the underlying psychological, cultural, and political factors that influence them. They also engage the public in climate change science and solutions, in partnership with governments, media organizations, companies, and civil society, and with a daily, national radio program, Yale Climate Connections.

World Urban Database: Census of Global Cities

The World Urban Database and Access Portal Tools project is a community-based project to gather a census of cities around the world.

The overall aims of WUDAPT are to:

  • use the Local Climate Zone (LCZ) classification framework as the starting point for characterizing cities in a consistent manner
  • use Geo-Wiki to sample land cover and land use types across LCZs (e.g. impervious surfaces (buildings, roads, other), pervious surfaces, grassland, etc.)
  • develop tools (online and mobile-based) to obtain other parameters such as building materials, building dimensions, canopy widths, etc.
  • provide open access to this dataset so that researchers around the world can use the data for many different types of applications, from climate and weather modeling to energy balance studies
  • provide basic tools in the portal to allows researchers to aggregate the data to a user-specified reference grid (resolution and starting location) and compare cities around the world.

For WUDAPT to work, we need to build a community of interested urban experts and interested researchers who will take active part by:

  • using the training materials to classify your city into LCZs
  • contributing your LCZ map to WUDAPT
  • helping us to collect other parameters using the online and mobile-based tools that will be developed.

Electric vehicles’ health and climate benefits in China and India

Peking University, China | 2020 - 2023

Electric vehicles (EVs) are a promising solution for sustainable transport. However, making EVs a sustainable solution depends on a variety of factors such as the carbon footprint of the electricity mix.

We will focus on two major emerging markets – China and India – to investigate the conditions under which EVs can provide co-benefits for air quality, health and climate change. The growth of EVs relies on curbing the use of coal power plants, building new infrastructure and shifting consumer preferences. We will help develop solutions for these challenges by evaluating the relative importance of country-specific factors such as subsidies, regulations around EVs and the price of electricity. We will design a series of scenarios to represent these key factors and use an integrated assessment modelling method combining emissions analysis, air quality modelling and health impact assessment.

Our findings could inform policy to unlock the air quality, health and climate co-benefits of EVs in China and India.

ACASIS : Alerte aux Canicules Au Sahel et à leurs Impacts sur la Santé

IRD | 2014 -2018

The main objective of ACASIS is to set-up a pre-operational heat wave warning system over West Africa tailored to health risks of the population living in this region. This is a demonstration project focused on Senegal and Burkina Faso where national weather services have already started developing products dedicated to weather/climate and health relationships, and where several health and demographic observatories have been operating for up to several decades.

Air pollution, heat and health in Brazil under climate change

Yale University, USA | 2020 - 2023

This project will estimate air pollution (fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone), heat waves, and days of high or low temperatures under present day conditions and in the future under climate change for two major Brazilian cities. The project will also develop estimates of how weather and air pollution impact mortality in Brazil.

ASSAR project (Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions)

University of Cape Town | 2014-2018

The five-year ASSAR project (Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions, 2014-2018) uses insights from multi-scale, interdisciplinary work to inform and transform climate adaptation policy and practice in ways that promote the long-term wellbeing of the most vulnerable and those with the least agency.

Working in 7 countries in the semi-arid regions of India, and East, Southern and West Africa, we focused our case studies on regionally-relevant, socio-ecological risks and dynamics relating to livelihoods, and resource access, use, and management.

CHAMNHA Climate, heat and maternal and neonatal health in Africa

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine | 2020 - 2022

CHAMNHA is led by a transdisciplinary team from 3 continents, spanning the natural, health and social sciences, and will address key knowledge gaps around heat and Maternal and Neonatal Health (MNH) in sub-Saharan Africa.

Abstract

The frequency and intensity of heat waves have increased in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and are set to escalate in the coming decades. Heatwaves present major health threats, especially for vulnerable population groups, such as those with limited socio-economic resources or compromised physiological ability to respond to heat stress. Pregnant women and neonates (<28 days after birth) have a unique set of health vulnerabilities, particularly in low- and lower-middle income countries (LLMICs), where pregnancy and childbirth are often highly precarious. Heat exposure complicates Maternal and Neonatal Health (MNH), increasing risks for maternal haemorrhage and sepsis, prematurity, low birth weight and neonatal dehydration. Few studies have assessed these impacts in sub-Saharan Africa, where maternal and neonatal deaths are frequent, facilities experience high indoor temperatures, health systems have low adaptive capacity and access to services is increasingly disrupted by climate events.

The proposed study (CHAMNHA) is led by a transdisciplinary team from 3 continents, spanning the natural, health and social sciences, and will address key knowledge gaps around heat and MNH in SSA in collaboration with stakeholders, employing qualitative and quantitative methods, implementation and evaluation science, and climate impact methods. The project is divided into three work packages (WP). WP1 will quantify impacts of heat exposure on MNH outcomes, using trial data, birth cohorts and other data sources from SSA, Norway and Sweden. We will characterize these impacts and identify sub-groups at high-risk. In WP2, qualitative research will document perceptions and local practices relating to heat exposure in pregnant women and neonates in Burkina Faso and Kenya. Then, in conjunction with pregnant women, male partners and health workers, we will co-design community- and facility-based interventions, such as improving preparedness for heat, e.g. through warning systems; changing behaviours and health worker practices to reduce heat impacts on MNH; training birth companions and traditional birth attendants on heat reduction during childbirth; and promoting breastfeeding and optimised hydration for women and neonates. WP3 will test the acceptability, feasibility and effectiveness of selected interventions using a randomized design (Kenya) and pre-post study design (Burkina Faso). In WP4, building on established collaborations with stakeholders, ministries of health and WHO, we will translate research findings into recommendations for improved MNH practice in the health sector, and national adaptation planning to reduce the current and future impacts of climate change on MNH

Co-benefits of climate actions for air and health in India

Natural Resources Defense Council | 2020 - 2023

Using an interdisciplinary modelling approach, this project will quantify the air quality and health co-benefits of mitigation and adaptation policies in Ahmedabad, India in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute, Public Health Foundation of India and the Natural Resources Defense Council. It will estimate the total electricity demand in 2030, considering climate change and demand for air conditioning. It will model and compare air quality associated with two climate change response strategies: shifting fossil fuel use to solar energy; and expanding cool roof/green landcover interventions. It will also use air quality estimates to calculate health co-benefits in 2030, relative to a 2018 baseline and a 2030 business-as-usual scenario.

Deepening and Expanding Heat Health Action in India

CDKN | 2014 - 2016

In 2013, the city of Ahmedabad, in Gujarat State, India, adopted and started implementing the first Heat Action Plan in South Asia. Based on learning from the project’s first phase, and interest from other state and municipal governments in India, the next phase was building on this momentum to deepen and expand action on extreme heat.

Evaluation of Heat Wave Related Mortality and Adaptation Measures in Switzerland

Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute

The heat wave in 2003 caused approximately 7% more deaths. As a result, the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health developed an information campaign for the behaviour during heat waves which has been adopted by various cantonal health authorities.

Objectives

1) Assessment of preventive measures which have been recommended or implemented by various stakeholders (communities, cantons, confederacy, MeteoSuisse, international authorities) to reduce heat-related mortality.

2) Analysis of the effect of heat waves on mortality in Switzerland on the basis of empirical data on a national level and stratified by region. The hypothesis will be tested the effect of comparable heat episodes on mortality is reduced since 2003.

3) Evaluation of regional adopted measures on the heat-related excess mortality in single cantons/regions where preventive measures have already been implemented.

4) Identification of the meteorological indicator which best describes the heat effect on mortality and identification of the highest groups at risk.

5) Preparation and dissemination of epidemiological studies on the topic for interested stakeholders with newsletters and workshops.

Methods

In a first step an assessment of the adopted and recommended measures aiming to reduce heat-related mortality will be executed. In a second step, Swiss mortality data (1990-2012) from the Federal Office of Statistics will be linked with the corresponding regional meteorological data provided by MeteoSwiss. The heat-related excess mortality will be investigated using Poisson regression analysis. Furthermore, various meteorological indicators will be investigated for the health effect of heat episodes. An important part of the project addresses the knowledge transfer. During the project, new relevant epidemiological studies will be identified, summarized and evaluated regarding to the practice. Information is made available to the relevant agencies and stakeholders by means of a newsletter.

Expectations

The project will provide an overview of adaptation measures for the prevention of heat-related mortality. It will show which meteorological parameters have the greatest effect on mortality and which age groups are particularly affected. The projects will generate evidence whether an increased sensitivity to the issue and adopted measures in the recent years had an impact on the extent of heat-related mortality.

EXHAUSTION project

CICERO | 2019-2023

The EXHAUSTION project aims to quantify the changes in cardiopulmonary mortality and morbidity due to extreme heat and air pollution (including from wildfires) under selected climate scenarios.

EXHAUSTION will address key knowledge gaps as listed by IPCC, including the following:

  • Published health risk projections do not properly account for adaptation.
  • There is a lack of knowledge and appropriate models regarding possible interactive effects of extreme heat and air pollution.
  • Quantitative projections of the costs associated with the health risks are suffering from a simplified modelling of the complex relationship between climatic and non-climatic factors, human health, and the socio-economic consequences.

EXHAUSTION will advance on these issues–adaptation, interactive effects, and socio-economic costs – and quantify the changes in cardiopulmonary disease under selected climate scenarios while including a diverse set of adaptation mechanisms and measures, calculate the associated costs, and identify effective interventions for minimizing adverse impacts. The EXHAUSTION consortium is multidisciplinary, encompassing specialists in climate and air quality modelling, cardiopulmonary medicine, epidemiology, health impact assessment, economics, and science communication. Moreover, the Consortium is pan-European, with participation of 14 partners from 10 countries in Europe and representing the territories subject of study in the project.

EXHAUSTION is a EU-funded research project led by CICERO Center for International Climate Research (Norway), and includes 13 other research institutions and partners: University of Oslo (Norway), Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Norway), Aarhus University (Denmark), Helmholtz Zentrum München (Germany), University of Porto (Portugal), National Meteorological Administration (Romania), National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (UK), Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (Luxembourg), Department of Epidemiology of the Lazio Region Health Service in Roma (Italy), Finnish Meteorological Institute (Finland), InfoDesignLab AS (Norway), DRAXIS Environmental S.A. (Greece).

EXTREMA

National Observatory of Athens | 2017- present

EXTREMA’s main objectives are to raise awareness, facilitate prevention and protect health from the adverse effects of climate change. EXTREMA is a DG ECHO funded project, 2018-2019, GA 783180.

Forecast-based Financing to Reduce Heatwave Vulnerability in Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnam Red Cross | 2018 - 2020

The project focuses on heat waves in Hanoi and is the first FbF project to focus on extreme events in urban areas. In Hanoi the average daily temperatures have risen in recent years; past heatwaves have led to a 20.0% increase in hospital admissions for all causes and 45.9% for respiratory diseases. One main element of the project is the identification of early actions that can reduce these health impacts of heatwaves, with a special focus on groups that are particularly affected like the elderly. Research, consultation with experts and field assessments are currently under way.

Green spaces, air pollution and climate-related heat mortality in Latin American cities

University of California, Berkeley | 2020 - 2023

An interdisciplinary research team will use a mortality database for urban residents in nine Latin American countries to examine the impact of climate change, particularly extreme heat events, on urban population mortality. They will also examine the modifying effect of green space and fine particulate matter on the association between heat events and mortality.

Health and economic impacts of reducing overheating in cities (HEROIC)

University of Oxford | 2020 - 2023

This project will take an interdisciplinary approach to quantify the health impact of changes to urban green infrastructure, and develop an environment and health economics tool, focusing on international cities, including London, Beijing and Nairobi.

HEAT (Heat Emergency Awareness and Treatment Bundle) Trial

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Aga Khan University; Aman Foundation; Elrha | 2016 - 2019

The purpose of this study is to develop and test a set of interventions to reduce the impact of extreme heat on urban low-income populations.

HEAT-SHIELD

The Horizon 2020 research project is dedicated to address the negative impact of increased workplace heat stress on the health and productivity of five strategic European industries: manufacturing, construction, transportation, tourism and agriculture.

HEATCOST Health effects and associated socio-economic costs of increasing temperatures and wildfires - A global assessment

CICERO, Norway | 2023 - 2023

HEATCOST will quantify health risks attributable to heat and air pollution (with a particular focus on air pollution from wildfires) in main world regions under selected climate scenarios and socioeconomic pathways.

LUCID - Local Urban Climate Model and its Application to the Intelligent Design of Cities

EPSRC

LUCID is developing, testing and applying state-of-the-art methods for calculating local climate in the urban environment. The impact on the internal built environment, energy use and the consequences for health will then be explored. The implications for urban planning will be considered in detail.

Managing heat stress among Bangladesh ready-made clothing industry workers

Griffith University, Australia | 2019 - 2023

This study is exploring how low- to moderate-cost interventions can alleviate the impact of high temperatures and humidity in ready-made garment factories in preparation for further climate change. It compares the use of green or white roofs and actively-managed fan-assisted cross-ventilation, compared to no interventions and air-conditioning. Climate-controlled chambers, computer-based modelling temperature monitoring, and worker interviews will be used to explore perceptions of discomfort caused by heat. Findings will help estimate when it will be necessary to invest in interventions and how effective they can be.

MCC Collaborative Research Network

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

The Multi-City Multi-Country (MCC) network is an international collaboration of research teams working on a program aiming to produce epidemiological evidence on associations between weather and health. Interest on this topic has grown in the last few years among both researchers and the general public, due to recent events of extreme weather and alarming climate change scenarios, both linked with increased health risks.The research program benefits from the use of the largest dataset ever assembled for this purpose, including information from hundreds of locations within several countries. This allows standardized analyses on local data to address specific research questions on global weather-health associations, following a formalized yet flexible method of collaboration. The MCC network has developed during the years, through correspondence between the participants and additional meetings held at other scientific conferences.

Methods and tools to integrate air quality and health into urban climate action planning

George Washington University, USA | 2019-2023

Many greenhouse gas mitigation actions also benefit air quality and health but assessment of these co-benefits has been limited. Over the next several years, C40 Cities will be working with city governments to develop climate action plans. They will integrate a screening-level air quality model focusing on particulate matter into C40’s climate action planning tool, Pathways, for at least three pilot cities. They will test the tool to explore air quality and health co-benefits of climate action pathways. We will also assess the potential for quantifying additional health co-benefits, such as changes in ozone, nitrogen dioxide levels, physical activity, noise and green space. Data and tools will be publicly available to support additional research into links between climate and health. Their work will build a bridge between scientific evidence on co-benefits to the largest urban climate action planning effort worldwide. Pathways will create a platform to study more cities and enable long-term integration of health co-benefits into climate action planning in cities.

Mitigation of climate change-induced occupational health and productivity problems

National University of Singapore | 2020-

This project will study the complex threat heat exposures pose to human health, wellbeing and productivity in working populations in Singapore and other tropical countries, and to identify sustainable preventive policies and actions that can reduce these impacts. Working people are particularly vulnerable to environmental heat because of their added internal heat production from muscle work. Singapore’s equatorial location means working populations are already chronically exposed to hot conditions (WBGT > 25°C) which are considered detrimental to health and wellbeing. These conditions require people working or engaged in exercise outdoors to take frequent rest and cooling breaks to protect health, If workers cannot or do not take rest in relation to heat stress, serious health effects can occur, including heat stroke death. Such conditions also affect productivity, which is reduced by 15% of potential annual work hours in the sun and by 4% if working in the shade.

Singapore has begun to tackle these issues by supporting mitigation and adaptation to extreme heat associated with climate change and with the urban heat island effect through research focused on public health and urban design. However, heat-health is a complex socioenvironmental problem that transgresses institutional, sectoral and disciplinary boundaries of public and occupational health and the domains of workplace, public space and the home. As such, there is a need to complement these efforts through the provision of a programme focussed on occupational exposures and their knock-on effects to support the overall effectiveness of Singaporean investments in heat-health risk management. Exposed work occurs in outdoor settings, but semi-enclosed workspaces, such as sheds or roofed workshops, can also present very hot thermal environments where cooling systems are inefficient, air conditioning cannot be used for financial or other reasons, and/or additional heat sources are present. These conditions are typical of many industries, including construction, shipping and utilities, including oil and gas transport and storage.

There is also limited evidence available concerning occupational heat exposures, and the impact of age, body mass index, physical fitness, and sex (e.g. pregnancy) on these effects, or their broader effects, such as prolonged discomfort, and mental stress, familial relationships and special health concerns, such as fertility. Improved knowledge is essential for the development of effective prevention programs. The researchers will pursue a multi-disciplinary approach uniquely positioned to address direct occupational heat exposures and impacts on health and productivity, but also the broader health and wellbeing implications that have yet to be comprehensively addressed in chronically heat-exposed countries such as Singapore. For example, physical fitness is one of the best ways of increasing heat tolerance as well as overall health. Ironically, the high heat levels in Singapore do not only discourage engagement in physical exercise, but can also be a direct health threat for people involved in sports and exercise. We will also review and test methods for analysing the most extreme effects of heat, including heat related mortality.

By following impacts on workers as well as workplaces, the study will trace how heat-health impacts emerge through exposure and exertion as a result of behaviours shaped by the climatic, urban, occupational and social environments they traverse every day. Such integrated analysis is required in order to develop policy responses that take into account the spatial and social situation of why heat-health impacts occur and how they can be managed as part of the everyday lives of chronically exposed populations. This also allows for the identification, analysis and management of ‘knock-on’ effects of occupational heat exposures on recreational and domestic life (and vice versa), including psychosocial and physiological impacts on exercise behaviours and fitness, family relationships, mental health and wellbeing and fertility rates. As our focus is on heat effects on working people, one secondary outcome of excessive heat exposure will be economic losses at individual, enterprise, community and national level due to a reduction of labour productivity due to heat. Our analysis will compare such economic impacts of heat to the costs of potential methods for climate change mitigation in selected countries. This will provide new estimates of the value of different alternatives in future climate change policy development.