A time-series analysis of mortality and air temperature in Greater Beirut

Sci Total Environ. 2004 Sep 1;330(1-3):71-80. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2004.02.027.


The literature on the association between health and weather in the temperate to semi-arid cities of the Eastern Mediterranean is scarce. The quantification of the relationship between temperature and daily mortality can be useful for developing policy interventions such as heat-warning systems. A time-series analysis of total daily mortality and weather data for the city of Beirut was carried out. The study covered the period between 1997 and 1999. Poisson auto-regressive models were constructed, with mean daily temperature and mean daily humidity as explanatory variables. Delayed effects, up to 2 weeks, were accounted for. The regression models were used next to assess the effect of an average increase in temperature on yearly mortality. The association between temperature and mortality was found to be significant. A relatively high minimum-mortality temperature (TMM) of 27.5 degrees C was calculated. A 1 degrees C rise in temperature yielded a 12.3% increase (95% confidence interval: 5.7-19.4%) and 2.9% decrease (95% confidence interval: 2-3.7%) in mortality, above and below TMM, respectively. Lag temperature variables were found to be significant below TMM but not above it. Where the temperature change was less than 0.5 degrees C, annual above-TMM losses were offset by below-TMM gains, within a 95% confidence interval. TMM for Beirut fell within the range usually associated with warm climates. However, the mild below-TMM and steep above-TMM slopes were more typical of cities with temperate to cold climates. Our findings suggest that heat-related mortality at moderately high temperatures can be a significant public health issue in countries with warm climates. Moreover, at the projected climate change over the next 50 years, heat-related losses are unlikely to be offset by cold-related gains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Climate
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lebanon / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Public Health