Accuracy of a Heat Vulnerability Index for Estimating Heat Mortality in Dallas, Texas
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Significant research has been done to explore the effects of heat on human health and comfort, particularly as this relationship becomes more pronounced in the face of increasing temperatures due to global warming and urban heat island effect. Identifying and quantifying the relationship between heat and health is becoming an increasingly important focus of public health officials and others working to improve human health outcomes. There have been numerous studies in the Dallas region on the causes and effects of urban heat island. However, fewer studies have focused on identifying the populations most vulnerable and those most affected by heat within the city. This should be a priority for the City of Dallas in the coming years due to the projected temperature increase. According to Habeeb et al., “Dallas-Fort Worth experienced the greatest change in heat wave duration, increasing the length of its average heat wave by 0.7 days per decade (±0.15), with heat waves on average 3.5 days longer in the 2000s as compared to 1960s.” The goal of this paper is to examine the accuracy of a heat vulnerability index (HVI) in estimating heat mortality within the City of Dallas in Dallas County. A comparison of the HVI to modeled mortality will be performed by census tract to evaluate how the HVI performs relative to a more sophisticated modeling approach. Subsequently, policy recommendations are provided to guide the city in reducing heat vulnerability among its citizens.