US local action on heat and health: are we prepared for climate change?

Int J Public Health. 2010 Apr;55(2):105-12. doi: 10.1007/s00038-009-0071-5. Epub 2009 Sep 23.


Objectives: Global climate change is increasing the frequency of heat waves, hot weather, and temperature variability, which contribute to mortality and illness. Baseline information on local efforts to reduce heat vulnerability, including public advisories; minimizing greenhouse gas emissions; and mitigating urban heat islands, is lacking.

Methods: We designed a survey about local government programs to prevent health problems and reduce heat exposure during heatwaves and administered it to 285 US communities.

Results: Of 70 respondents, 26 indicated that excessive heat events are a significant issue for the local government; 30 had established preventive programs. Local government leadership and public health impacts of heat were cited most frequently as extremely important determinants of preventive programs, followed by implementation costs, economic impacts of hot weather, and greenhouse gas emissions mitigation. Cool paving materials and vegetated roofs were common heat mitigation strategies. Fact sheets and case studies were desired guidance for protecting communities during hot weather.

Conclusions: New partnerships and financial resources are needed to support more widespread local action to prevent adverse health consequences of climate change and promote environmental sustainability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change*
  • Data Collection
  • Health Planning*
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Local Government
  • Public Health*
  • United States