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The potential benefits of location-specific biometeorological indexes

Abstract

It is becoming popular to use biometeorological indexes to study the effects of weather on human health. Most of the biometeorological indexes were developed decades ago and only applicable to certain locations because of different climate types. Merely using standard biometeorological indexes to replace typical weather factors in biometeorological studies of different locations may not be an ideal research direction. This research is aimed at assessing the difference of statistical power between using standard biometeorological indexes and typical weather factors on describing the effects of extreme weather conditions on daily ambulance demands in Hong Kong. Results showed that net effective temperature and apparent temperature did not perform better than typical weather factors in describing daily ambulance demands in this study. The maximum adj-R 2 improvement was only 0.08, whereas the maximum adj-R 2 deterioration was 0.07. In this study, biometeorological indexes did not perform better than typical weather factors, possibly due to the differences of built environments and lifestyles in different locations and eras. Regarding built environments, the original parameters for calculating the index values may not be applicable to Hong Kong as buildings in Hong Kong are extremely dense and most are equipped with air conditioners. Regarding lifestyles, the parameters, which were set decades ago, may be outdated and not suitable to modern lifestyles as using hand-held electrical fans on the street to help reduce heat stress are popular. Hence, it is ideal to have tailor-made updated location-specific biometeorological indexes to study the effects of weather on human health.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to the following government departments of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for access to data records used in the present study: Hospital Authority and Hong Kong Observatory.

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Correspondence to Ho Ting Wong, Jinfeng Wang or Poh Chin Lai.

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Wong, H.T., Wang, J., Yin, Q. et al. The potential benefits of location-specific biometeorological indexes. Int J Biometeorol 61, 1695–1698 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-017-1343-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-017-1343-z

Keywords

  • Ambulance
  • Biometeorological index
  • Health
  • Weather