Early Warning System and Adaptation Advice to Reduce Human Health Consequences of Extreme Weather Conditions and Air Pollution

Early Warning System and Adaptation Advice to Reduce Human Health Consequences of Extreme Weather Conditions and Air Pollution

Dragan Bogdanović (State University of Novi Pazar, Serbia) and Konstansa Lazarević (State University of Novi Pazar, Serbia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7266-6.ch015
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The authors developed a multi-site Internet service to provide the public with real time information about local weather and air quality, how they may affect health, and how general population and different sensitive population groups can protect their health during periods of extreme weather conditions or increased air pollution levels. The information service is based on data obtained from the Republic Hydrometeorological Service of Serbia and Serbian Environment Protection Agency. Health warnings and recommendations are given separately for each AIQ and heat index or wind chill index value, for each sensitive population group, as well as for the general population. The project is currently implemented on the website of the Institute of Occupational Health Niš and will be offered to other healthcare institutions in Serbia. Evaluation of the system should enable redefinition of heat and wind chill indices and air pollution threshold values if necessary. This chapter explores the service.
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Exposure to adverse weather conditions or high concentrations of air pollutants is associated with a wide range of acute and chronic health effects, especially in children, the elderly, and in patients with chronic diseases. Pyramid of the health effects of adverse weather conditions and air pollution starts from subclinical effects, continued with deterioration of organ functions, the appearance of new or worsening of existing symptoms, increased use of drugs, activity reduction, an increased number of physician visits, increased use of emergency medical services, increased number of admissions to hospital treatment, and ends with the increased number of deaths.

The growing problems of climate change and air pollution have caused the development of a system for monitoring health risks and issuing warnings in many countries. In the U.S., the National Weather Service was developed, using the National Weather Hazards application to monitor, alert, and provide advice on risk due to the effects of many meteorological factors: snow, wind, floods, extreme heat and cold over the Internet (http://www.umweltbundesamt.de), as well as other countries.

Internet applications for weather and air pollution monitoring, as well as for providing health advice and issuing warnings have been developed, not only on national level, but also for regions of large countries (USA, Canada, China, Australia), as well as in many cities in the world.

Within the “New information technologies for analytical decision-making based on the organization of experiments and observations, and their application in biological, economic and social systems” project, funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, the first system for early warning and providing recommendations for reducing the adverse health consequences of air pollution and meteorological conditions is under development in Serbia. The system is interfaced with using a web application and is intended for use by the general population and vulnerable population groups in the cities of Serbia. At this stage, the system has been implemented on the website of the Institute of Occupational Medicine in Nis, and will be offered in other towns in Serbia.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Wind Chill Index: Wind chill index is the perceived decrease in air temperature on exposed skin due to the flow of air. When the air temperature is below 5°C, the wind chill index is used as an indicator of the perceived temperature instead of the heat index.

Early Warning System: Early warning system is any series of steps established to spot potential problems, and reduce their adverse effects.

Air Pollution: Air pollution is contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere.

Heat Index: Heat index is a measurement of the air temperature in relation to the relative humidity, used as an indicator of the perceived temperature.

Health: Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.

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