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IJERPH, Vol. 15, Pages 952: Current and Potential Future Seasonal Trends of Indoor Dwelling Temperature and Likely Health Risks in Rural Southern Africa

10 May 2018

IJERPH, Vol. 15, Pages 952: Current and Potential Future Seasonal Trends of Indoor Dwelling Temperature and Likely Health Risks in Rural Southern Africa

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health doi: 10.3390/ijerph15050952

Authors:
Thandi Kapwata
Michael Gebreslasie
Angela Mathee
Caradee Wright

Climate change has resulted in rising temperature trends which have been associated with changes in temperature extremes globally. Attendees of Conference of the Parties (COP) 21 agreed to strive to limit the rise in global average temperatures to below 2 °C compared to industrial conditions, the target being 1.5 °C. However, current research suggests that the African region will be subjected to more intense heat extremes over a shorter time period, with projections predicting increases of 4–6 °C for the period 2071–2100, in annual average maximum temperatures for southern Africa. Increased temperatures may exacerbate existing chronic ill health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, cerebrovascular disease, and diabetes-related conditions. Exposure to extreme temperatures has also been associated with mortality. This study aimed to consider the relationship between temperatures in indoor and outdoor environments in a rural residential setting in a current climate and warmer predicted future climate. Temperature and humidity measurements were collected hourly in 406 homes in summer and spring and at two-hour intervals in 98 homes in winter. Ambient temperature, humidity and windspeed were obtained from the nearest weather station. Regression models were used to identify predictors of indoor apparent temperature (AT) and to estimate future indoor AT using projected ambient temperatures. Ambient temperatures will increase by a mean of 4.6 °C for the period 2088–2099. Warming in winter was projected to be greater than warming in summer and spring. The number of days during which indoor AT will be categorized as potentially harmful will increase in the future. Understanding current and future heat-related health effects is key in developing an effective surveillance system. The observations of this study can be used to inform the development and implementation of policies and practices around heat and health especially in rural areas of South Africa.

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