Background: Little attention has been paid to how heat-related health effects vary with the micro-urban variation of outdoor temperatures. In this paper we explore whether persons located in micro-urban heat islands are at higher risk of mortality during hot summer days.
Methods: Data used include 1) daily mortality for Montreal (Canada) for June-August 1990-2003, 2) daily mean ambient outdoor temperatures at the local International Airport and, 3) two thermal surface images (Landsat satellites, infra-red wave lengths). A city-wide temperature vs daily mortality function was established on the basis of a case-crossover design; this function was stratified according to the surface temperature at decedents’ place of death.
Results: The risk of death on warm summer days in areas with higher surface temperatures was greater than in areas with lower surface temperatures.
Conclusions: Our study suggests that measures aimed at reducing the temperature in micro-urban heat islands (e.g. urban greening activities) may reduce the health impact of hot temperatures. Further studies are needed to document the variation of heat-related risks within cities and to evaluate the health benefits of measures aimed at reducing the temperature in micro-urban heat islands.
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