, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 393-400
Date: 05 Jan 2010

Excess deaths during the 2004 heatwave in Brisbane, Australia

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Abstract

The paper examines whether there was an excess of deaths and the relative role of temperature and ozone in a heatwave during 7–26 February 2004 in Brisbane, Australia, a subtropical city accustomed to warm weather. The data on daily counts of deaths from cardiovascular disease and non-external causes, meteorological conditions, and air pollution in Brisbane from 1 January 2001 to 31 October 2004 were supplied by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and Queensland Environmental Protection Agency, respectively. The relationship between temperature and mortality was analysed using a Poisson time series regression model with smoothing splines to control for nonlinear effects of confounding factors. The highest temperature recorded in the 2004 heatwave was 42°C compared with the highest recorded temperature of 34°C during the same periods of 2001–2003. There was a significant relationship between exposure to heat and excess deaths in the 2004 heatwave [estimated increase in non-external deaths: 75 ([95% confidence interval, CI: 11–138; cardiovascular deaths: 41 (95% CI: −2 to 84)]. There was no apparent evidence of substantial short-term mortality displacement. The excess deaths were mainly attributed to temperature but exposure to ozone also contributed to these deaths.