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Estimating the Burden of Heat-related illness morbidity Attributable to Anthropogenic Climate Change in North Carolina
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  • Jagadeesh Puvvula,
  • Azar Abadi,
  • Kathryn Conlon,
  • Jared Rennie,
  • Stephanie Herring,
  • Lauren Thie,
  • Max Rudolph,
  • Rebecca Owen,
  • Jesse Eugene Bell
Jagadeesh Puvvula
University of Nebraska Medical Center

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Azar Abadi
University of Nebraska Medical Center
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Kathryn Conlon
UC Davis
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Jared Rennie
National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
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Stephanie Herring
NOAA National Climatic Data Center
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Lauren Thie
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Max Rudolph
Creighton University
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Rebecca Owen
HCA solutions INC.
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Jesse Eugene Bell
University of Nebraska Medical Center
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Climate change is known to increase the frequency and intensity of hot days (daily maximum temperature ≥ 30°C), both globally and locally. Exposure to extreme heat is associated with numerous adverse human health outcomes. This study estimated the burden of heat-related illness (HRI) attributable to anthropogenic climate change in North Carolina physiographic divisions (Coastal and Piedmont) during the summer months from 2011-2016. Additionally, assuming intermediate and high greenhouse gas emission scenarios, future HRI morbidity burden attributable to climate change was estimated. The association between daily maximum temperature and the rate of HRI was evaluated using the Generalized Additive Model. The rate of HRI assuming natural simulations (i.e., absence of greenhouse gas emissions) and future greenhouse gas emission scenarios were predicted to estimate the HRI attributable to climate change. During 2011-2016, we observed a significant decrease in the rate of HRI assuming natural simulations compared to the observed. About 15% of HRI is attributable to anthropogenic climate change in Coastal (13.40% (IQR: -34.90,95.52)) and Piedmont (16.39% (IQR: -35.18,148.26)) regions. During the future periods, the median rate of HRI was significantly higher (78.65%:Coastal and 65.85%:Piedmont), assuming a higher emission scenario than the intermediate emission scenario. We observed significant associations between anthropogenic climate change and adverse human health outcomes. Our findings indicate the need for evidence-based public health interventions to protect human health from climate-related exposures, like extreme heat, while minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.