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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UCLA: Boiling Point

Heat waves cause more deaths and hospitalizations in the U.S. than any other weather-related disaster. As temperatures rise, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health’s Dr. David Eisenman is among the experts studying solutions.

As an expert in disaster preparedness and response whose work has increasingly focused on the weather events that are occurring with growing intensity and frequency as the climate changes, Dr. David Eisenman has observed that one type of natural disaster is often overlooked.

“Heat waves don’t make the news in the same way as  hurricanes, earthquakes and floods, but heat is already the leading weather-related cause of death in the United States, and with climate change it will only grow as a concern,” says Dr. Eisenman, professor in residence in the Fielding School’s Department of Community Health Scienes and director of the FSPH-based Center for Public Health and Disasters. “It’s also an equity issue, because the most vulnerable members of our society tend to be the ones who are at the greatest risk.”

In addition to his work as a practicing physician, Dr. Eisenman conducts research to better understand who is most vulnerable to heat illness and death, in part by examining health outcomes data in conjunction with historical weather data. Populations that are most susceptible include the elderly, young children, people with chronic diseases and individuals who are homeless or otherwise impoverished. In Los Angeles, as in many other cities in the U.S., more than half of households lack central air conditioning, and low-income families are the most likely to be forced to endure high temperatures with a wall unit at best, Dr. Eisenman says.

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