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Gabriele Manoli puts a price on the health cost of urban heat islands

08.02.2024 13:02

The heat islands found in many European cities have a clear impact on human mortality risk comparable to air pollution, says a study co-authored by Branco Weiss Alumnus Gabriele Manoli and Researchers from Singapore, the UK and the US that was published recently in Nature Communications. Looking at 85 European cities over the course of three full years, the study has produced the first cost estimate of the impact that urban heat islands have on human health. The researchers put the average cost at €192 for the heat-related effects per adult resident per year, combining data and methods from an array of disciplines including urban climatology, epidemiology, economics, statistics, and mathematical modeling. The scientists took also into account that heat islands offer protection in winter – an aspect that has been little studied until now. According to the study, the urban heat island of Geneva, e.g., can cause 4 additional heat-related deaths per 100,000 residents per year while preventing 3.4 cold-related deaths.

With their interdisciplinary approach, the researchers want to offer help to urban policymakers. “The goal is to make these areas less dangerous in the summer months without compromising the protection they can provide in winter,” EPFL is quoting Gabriele Manoli. “Our study shows that the impact of heat islands varies considerably from one city and season to another. Going forward, policymakers can use this concrete information in their decision-making.”

Read the paper in  Nature Communications

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