Beyond heat exposure — new methods to quantify and link personal heat exposure, stress, and strain in diverse populations and climates: The journal temperature toolbox

Gisel Guzman-Echavarria, Ariane Middel, Jennifer Vanos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Fine-scale personal heat exposure (PHE) information can help prevent or minimize weather-related deaths, illnesses, and reduced work productivity. Common methods to estimate heat risk do not simultaneously account for the intensity, frequency, and duration of thermal exposures, nor do they include inter-individual factors that modify physiological response. This study demonstrates new whole-body net thermal load estimations to link PHE to heat stress and strain over time. We apply a human-environment heat exchange model to examine how time-varying net thermal loads differ across climate contexts, personal attributes, and spatiotemporal scales. First, we investigate summertime climatic PHE impacts for three US cities: Phoenix, Miami, and New York. Second, we model body morphology and acclimatization for three profiles (middle-aged male/female; female >65 years). Finally, we quantify model sensitivity using representative data at synoptic and micro-scales. For all cases, we compare required and potential evaporative heat losses that can lead to dangerous thermal exposures based on (un)compensable heat stress. Results reveal misclassifications in heat stress or strain due to incomplete environmental data and assumed equivalent physiology and activities between people. Heat strain is most poorly represented by PHE alone for the elderly, non-acclimatized, those engaged in strenuous activities, and when negating solar radiation. Moreover, humid versus dry heat across climates elicits distinct thermal responses from the body. We outline criteria for inclusive PHE evaluations connecting heat exposure, stress, and strain while using physiological-based methods to avoid misclassifications. This work underlines the value of moving from “one-size-fits-all” thermal indices to “fit-for-purpose” approaches using personalized information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTemperature
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • extreme heat
  • human heat balance
  • mean radiant temperature
  • partitional calorimetry
  • Personal heat exposure
  • situated knowledge
  • thermal strain
  • thermal stress
  • thermal stress index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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