Advertisement

Extreme heat hits poorer neighborhoods harder, study says

By
HealthDay News

Extreme heat strikes poor and minority neighborhoods in U.S. cities harder than those that are wealthier and mainly White, a new study finds.

"The distribution of excess urban heat varies within cities, and as a result, communities do not share a city's extreme heat burden equally," said study co-author Jennifer Burney. She's chair of global climate policy and research at the University of California, San Diego.

Advertisement

Prior research has linked extreme heat to a range of problems, including premature birth, increased risk of heat stroke among children and the elderly, lower test scores and decreased productivity.

In this study, the team from UCSD's School of Global Policy and Strategy analyzed satellite data on land surface temperatures from 1,056 U.S. counties. That was compared with census demographic information.

RELATED Unfathomable heat helped June smash North America record

In 71% of those counties, summer land surface temperatures in neighborhoods with higher rates of poverty were up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than in the richest neighborhoods.

The same was true of predominately Black, Hispanic and Asian neighborhoods compared to white neighborhoods, even when the researchers controlled for income levels, according to the study published online this week in the journal Earth's Future.

"The physical features driving surface heat spikes in these urban environments are fairly consistent across the country, even for cities with very different geographies and histories," first author Susanne Benz said in a university news release.

Advertisement
RELATED Study: Climate change causes 5M extra deaths per year

"Systematically, the disproportionate heat surface exposures faced by low-income communities with larger minority populations are due to more built-up neighborhoods, less vegetation, and -- to a lesser extent -- higher population density," Benz explained.

"Particularly in summer, warming in cities due to alterations of the surface energy balance jeopardizes human health and productivity," Burney added. She was Benz's postdoctoral supervisor when the study was conducted.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on extreme heat.

RELATED New Orleans, Newark, NYC top index of most intense urban 'heat islands'

Copyright © 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Latest Headlines