Temperature-related mortality in France, a comparison between regions with different climates from the perspective of global warming
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This paper aims to explain the results of an observational population study that was carried out between 1991 and 1995 in six regions (departments) in France. The study was to assess the relationship between temperature and mortality in a few areas of France that offer widely varying climatic conditions and lifestyles, to determine their thermal optimum, defined as a 3°C temperature band with the lowest mortality rate in each area, and then to compare the mortality rates from this baseline band with temperatures above and below the baseline. The study period was selected because it did not include extreme cold or hot events such as a heatwave. Data on daily deaths from each department were first used to examine the entire population and then to examine men, women, various age groups and various causes of death (respiratory disease, stroke, ischæmic heart disease, other disease of the circulatory system, and all other causes excluding violent deaths). Mean temperatures were provided by the National Weather Service. The results depicted an asymmetrical V- or U-shaped relationship between mortality and temperature, with a thermal optimum lower for the elderly, and generally lower for women than for men except in Paris. The relationship was also different depending on the cause of death. In all cases, more evidence was collected showing that cold weather was more deadly than hot weather, and it would now be interesting to enlarge the study to include years with cold spells and heatwaves. Furthermore, the results obtained could be of great use in estimating weather-related mortality as a consequence of future climate-change scenarios.
KeywordsMortality Temperature Thermal optimum Global warming Climate change
This study was partly supported by the research program Management and Impacts of Climate Change First Phase (GICC, Gestion et Impacts du Changement Climatique) managed in France by the Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development, in close collaboration with the Inter-Ministerial Mission on the Greenhouse Effect. The authors wish to thank June Winterflood for reviewing the English in the article.
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