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Temperature deviation index and elderly mortality in Japan

Abstract

Few studies have examined how the precedence of abnormal temperatures in previous neighboring years affects the population’s health. In the present study, we attempted to quantify the health effects of abnormal weather patterns by creating a metric called the temperature deviation index (TDI) and estimated the effects of TDI on mortality in Japan. We used data from 47 prefectures in Japan to compute the TDI on days between May and September from 1966 to 2010. The TDI is a summed product of an indicator of absence of high temperatures in the neighboring years, and more weights were assigned to the years closest to the current year. To estimate the TDI effects on elderly mortality, we used generalized linear modeling with a Poisson distribution after adjusting for apparent temperature, barometric pressure, day of the week, and time trend. For each prefecture, we estimated the TDI effects and pooled the estimates to yield a national average for 1991–2010 in Japan. The estimated effects of TDI in middle- or high-latitude prefectures were greater than in low-latitude prefectures. The estimated national average of TDI effects was a 0.5 % (95 % confidence intervals [CI], 0.1, 1.0) increase in elderly mortality per 1-unit (around 1 standard deviation) increase in the TDI. The significant pooled estimation of TDI effects was mainly due to the TDI effects on summer days with moderate temperature (25th–49th percentile, mean temperature 22.9 °C): a 1.9 % (95 % CI, 1.1, 2.6) increase in elderly mortality per 1-unit increase in the TDI. However, TDI effects were insignificant in other temperature ranges. These findings suggest that elderly deaths increased on moderate temperature days in the summer that differed substantially from days during that time window in the neighboring years. Therefore, not only high temperature itself but also temperature deviation compared to previous years could be considered to be a risk factor for elderly mortality in the summer.

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Correspondence to Youn-Hee Lim.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Sources of financial support

This work was supported by the Women Scientist Research Program funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (#2015R1A1A3A04001325); the Global Research Lab through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (#K21004000001-10A0500-00710); and Development Funds S-8 and S-10 from the Ministry of the Environment, Japan.

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Lim, YH., Reid, C.E., Honda, Y. et al. Temperature deviation index and elderly mortality in Japan. Int J Biometeorol 60, 991–998 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-015-1091-x

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Elderly
  • Hot temperature
  • Japan
  • Mortality
  • Weather