Higher temperatures push up number of deaths

There is a relationship between the number of people who die and temperature levels. In the months June and July this year weekly mortality was highest in the warmest weeks and lowest in the coolest.

Highest mortality in the third week of July

At 29 degrees, the average temperature was highest in the week of 14 to 20 July. In that week 2,570 people died in the Netherlands. Two weeks previously (the week of 30 June to 6 July) the temperature the lowest on average in the last two months: under 21 degrees. In that week 2,340 people died.

Deaths per week, June and July 2003

The other weeks in this period also show a clear correlation between mortality and temperature. On average a temperature increase of one degree led to a weekly increase of 25 in the number of deaths. As the temperature was 7 degrees higher than normal in the third week of July, the number of deaths could be calculated to be 175 higher than normal for a week in July. The heat wave in August is also expected to lead to higher mortality. Figures for August will be released in a few weeks time.

Joop de Beer en Carel Harmsen