Potential health risks as temperatures soar

BE CAREFUL: Exposing your skin to too much sunshine could be potentially dangerous
BE CAREFUL: Exposing your skin to too much sunshine could be potentially dangerous

IF you are feeling more hot and bothered than before, you might be on to something. Researchers have warned that this year is fast becoming the hottest year on record, with dire potential health risks.

In a recently published study by the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), scientist drew significant links between increased temperatures and decreasing human health in Africa.

CSIR atmospheric scientist Dr Rebecca Garland warned of the potential human health risks resulting from exposure to increased temperatures on the continent. If you thought your friends and family up country had been complaining for nothing, the study found that Johannesburg was projected to have up to 34 days per year whereby maximum apparent temperatures reached more than 27°C.

“These projections

of warming suggest that Africa could see an increase in the number of days when health will be adversely affected.

“Therefore, we decided to research the potential risk to human health by increasing maximum apparent temperatures resulting from climate change,” Garland said.

“High temperatures affect the body’s thermoregulatory system, leading to an inability to maintain thermal balance,” she said, warning that exposure to high temperatures could lead to physical disorders including discomfort, fatigue, heat stroke, and possibly death.

Heat exhaustion can occur when human body temperatures rise to above 38°C.

She explained that from 1961 to 1990, Johannesburg showed 34.5 days where apparent temperatures were more or equal to 27°C, per year on average. Between the years 2011 to 2040, Johannesburg is projected to have an increase to 35 such days on average per year.

Modelling of hot days across the continent indicated that the potential risk to human health from high apparent temperatures was projected to increase. 

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