High summer temperatures and mortality in Estonia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: On-going climate change is predicted to result in a growing number of extreme weather events - such as heat waves - throughout Europe. The effect of high temperatures and heat waves are already having an important impact on public health in terms of increased mortality, but studies from an Estonian setting are almost entirely missing. We investigated mortality in relation to high summer temperatures and the time course of mortality in a coastal and inland region of Estonia. Methods: We collected daily mortality data and daily maximum temperature for a coastal and an inland region of Estonia. We applied a distributed lag non-linear model to investigate heat related mortality and the time course of mortality in Estonia. Results: We found an immediate increase in mortality associated with temperatures exceeding the 75th percentile of summer maximum temperatures, corresponding to approximately 23°C. This increase lasted for a couple of days in both regions. The total effect of elevated temperatures was not lessened by significant mortality displacement. Discussion: We observed significantly increased mortality in Estonia, both on a country level as well as for a coastal region and an inland region with a more continental climate. Heat related mortality was higher in the inland region as compared to the coastal region, however, no statistically significant differences were observed. The lower risks in coastal areas could be due to lower maximum temperatures and cooling effects of the sea, but also better socioeconomic condition. Our results suggest that region specific estimates of the impacts of temperature extremes on mortality are needed.

Details

Authors
Organisations
External organisations
  • University of Tartu
  • Umeå University
  • Tartu Health Care College
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Climate Research
  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0155045
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume11
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes