- The study shows how large and varied the hidden costs to life could be due to climate-related disasters and climate change.
- “Our study is a major first step in better understanding how cyclones can affect deaths,” said a co-author of the study.
- Researchers say tropical cyclones will remain a significant public health problem.
Hurricanes continue to kill people long after they make landfall, new research shows.
In recent decades, hurricanes and other tropical storms in the United States have been associated with up to 33.4% higher death rates from several major causes in the following months, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
According to the study, subsequent causes of death from hurricanes included injury, infectious and parasitic diseases, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and neuropsychiatric disorders.
The study shows how large and varied the hidden costs to life could be due to weather-related disasters and climate change, according to the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health in New York, which led the study.
“In the United States, tropical cyclones, such as hurricanes and tropical storms, have a devastating effect on society, but a comprehensive assessment of their ongoing health impacts has been lacking,” said the co-author of the paper. study, Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou, assistant professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, in a statement.
“Our study is a major first step in better understanding how cyclones can affect deaths, which provides a critical foundation for improving resilience to climate-related disasters in the days, weeks, months and years after they caused destruction,” Kioumourtzoglou said.
After collecting 33.6 million U.S. death records from 1988 to 2018, the researchers used a statistical model to calculate how death rates from tropical cyclones have changed compared to equivalent periods of other years.
“Tropical cyclone” is an umbrella term meteorologists use to include all hurricanes and tropical storms. A hurricane becomes a tropical storm when its sustained wind speed reaches 74 mph.
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“Recent tropical cyclone seasons – which have produced stronger, more active and longer lasting tropical cyclones than those recorded previously – indicate that tropical cyclones will remain a significant public health problem,” said the lead author of the study, Robbie Parks, postdoctoral researcher. at the Mailman School of Public Health.
With 31 named storms in 2020 and 21 in 2021, the past two Atlantic hurricane seasons have been among the three most active on record, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Hurricane records date back to the mid-1800s.
Tropical cyclones were most frequent in eastern and southeastern coastal counties of the United States, according to the study.
Parks added that “our results show that tropical cyclones in the United States were associated with increased deaths for several major causes of death, reflecting the ‘hidden burden’ of climate-related exposures and climate change.”
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