The role of humidity in associations of high temperature with mortality: a multiauthor, multicity study

Publié le 25 Septembre 2019
Mis à jour le 18 Octobre 2019

Background: there is strong experimental evidence that physiologic stress from high temperatures is greater if humidity is higher. However, heat indices developed to allow for this have not consistently predicted mortality better than dry-bulb temperature. Objectives: we aimed to clarify the potential contribution of humidity an addition to temperature in predicting daily mortality in summer by using a large multicountry dataset. Methods: in 445 cities in 24 countries, we fit a time-series regression model for summer mortality with a distributed lag nonlinear model (DLNM) for temperature (up to lag 3) and supplemented this with a range of terms for relative humidity (RH) and its interaction with temperature. City-specific associations were summarized using meta-analytic techniques. Results: adding a linear term for RH to the temperature term improved fit slightly, with an increase of 23% in RH (the 99th percentile anomaly) associated with a 1.1% [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.8, 1.3] decrease in mortality. Allowing curvature in the RH term or adding terms for interaction of RH with temperature did not improve the model fit. The humidity-related decreased risk was made up of a positive coefficient at lag 0 outweighed by negative coefficients at lags of 1-3 d. Key results were broadly robust to small model changes and replacing RH with absolute measures of humidity. Replacing temperature with apparent temperature, a metric combining humidity and temperature, reduced goodness of fit slightly. Discussion: the absence of a positive association of humidity with mortality in summer in this large multinational study is counter to expectations from physiologic studies, though consistent with previous epidemiologic studies finding little evidence for improved prediction by heat indices. The result that there was a small negative average association of humidity with mortality should be interpreted cautiously; the lag structure has unclear interpretation and suggests the need for future work to clarify.

Auteur : Armstrong Ben, Sera Francesco, Vicedo-Cabrera Ana Maria, Abrutzky Rosana, Åström Daniel Oudin, Bell Michelle L, Chen Bing-Yu, de Sousa Zanotti Stagliorio Coelho Micheline, Correa Patricia Matus, Dang Tran Ngoc, Diaz Magali Hurtado, Dung Do Van, Forsberg Bertil, Goodman Patrick, Guo Yue-Liang Leon, Guo Yuming, Hashizume Masahiro, Honda Yasushi, Indermitte Ene, Íñiguez Carmen, Kan Haidong, Kim Ho, Kyselý Jan, Lavigne Eric, Michelozzi Paola, Orru Hans, Ortega Nicolás Valdés, Pascal Mathilde, Ragettli Martina S, Saldiva Paulo Hilario Nascimento, Schwartz Joel, Scortichini Matteo, Seposo Xerxes, Tobias Aurelio, Tong Shilu, Urban Aleš, De la Cruz Valencia César, Zanobetti Antonella, Zeka Ariana, Gasparrini Antonio
Environmental Health Perspectives, 2019, vol. 127, n°. 9, p. 1-8