Research: urban ‘heat-island effect’ is a threat to Taipei seniors
There’s disturbing new research on the health impacts of the urban “heat-island effect,” the Taipei Times reports. When temperatures soar in Taipai and New Taipai City, the suicide rate for people age 65 and older increases.
The correlation is documented in a study published this month in the Taiwan Journal of Public Health, the article says. From 2000 to 2008, for every 1 degree Celsius increase in the intensity of the urban heat-island effect, the suicide rate among older citizens increased by nearly 5.5 percent. More than 1,700 seniors took their lives during that period. Taipei is among the world’s most densely populated cities. Many neighborhoods are concrete jungles that trap heat, making the temperature feel hotter than in rural areas.
The authors emphasize that more park space and greenery is needed to keep temperatures at bay and provide refuge from searing conditions. The elderly are advised to stay in air-conditioned places when heat is oppressive. If they lack air conditioning at home, they can head to shopping malls or other public venues.
The research was conducted by the National Chiayi University, National Yang-Ming University, National Cheng Kung University, the National Health Research Institutes and Academia Sinica, Taiwan’s leading research institute, according to the Times.