Launching the National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS) and the heat.gov site on July 26, 2022, the Biden administration cited heat waves and the warming climate as serious health threats. As the new initiative promises a “science informed response” to hotter conditions, five stories from The Conversation’s archive explain what researchers know about heat and health.
1. It’s the humidity
“Heat waves can kill via the dehydration caused by heavy sweating; the altered sodium and potassium concentrations in the blood confuse both heart and nerve cells, and so breathing or heartbeat may suddenly stop,” he wrote.
Calvin explained that human bodies have not evolved to handle extreme heat with humidity. “Normally, sweat evaporates off your skin and you cool down. But with high humidity, the air is already saturated with water vapor, and so evaporative cooling stops. However, you keep sweating anyway, threatening dehydration.”