Estimating the number of excess deaths attributable to heat in 297 United States counties

Environ Epidemiol. 2020 Apr 23;4(3):e096. doi: 10.1097/EE9.0000000000000096. eCollection 2020 Jun.


There is a well-established relationship between high ambient temperature and risk of death. However, the number of deaths attributable to heat each year in the United States remains incompletely quantified.

Methods: We replicated the approach from a large, international study to estimate temperature-mortality associations in 297 United States counties and additionally calculated the number of deaths attributable to heat, a quantity of likely interest to policymakers and the public.

Results: Across 297 counties representing 61.9% of the United States population in 2000, we estimate that an average of 5,608 (95% empirical confidence interval = 4,748, 6,291) deaths were attributable to heat annually, 1997-2006.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the number of deaths related to heat in the United States is substantially larger than previously reported.

Keywords: Extreme heat; Mortality; Temperature; United States.