Q&A: Hyper-Segregated Cities at Greater Risk of Heat Island Effect
Ngoc Nguyen, Special to The Informer from New America Media | 7/17/2013, 3 p.m.
NAM: What are the health impacts of heat waves?
RMF: Dehydration, and increased rates of hospitalization for dehydration and heat exhaustion. People already suffering from chronic illnesses like hypertension or diabetes are more vulnerable to the adverse health effects of extreme heat events; people can also die from being exposed to heat, especially if they don’t have air conditioning.
NAM: What was surprising in the study findings?
RMF: In metropolitan areas with greater levels of racial segregation, everyone — whites included — were more likely to live in heat-prone areas … what this shows is that, in some ways segregation adversely affects everyone. This form of social inequality affects everyone. Segregated places have much higher health island risk compared to less segregated places.
NAM: What implications does the study have for policy?
RMF: I think this research shows us that local land cover can have a dramatic effect on the heat experiences of urban residents. This research suggests efforts should be attuned to racial disparities [and] directing heat-mitigating strategies to the most vulnerable residents in these cities.
The study suggests that when you are in a city that is more racially segregated, [where] race or ethnicity dominates how people live with each other … there is less concern about the common good.