Effect of excessive heat stress in Coastal India

There would be a decline of 35% in work performance by 2100 due to heat stress caused by extreme heat and humidity.

February 12, 2021
The Scitech

In a recently published study, it is estimated that there would be a decline of 35% in work performance in the east coast region of India by 2100 due to heat stress caused by extreme heat and humidity. This would be extended to most of the other regions of the country due to increasing anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations and other climate change related factors. The research published in Nature Scientific Reports says that excessive heat stress increases core human body temperature rapidly with damaging effects on the brain and other vital organs that lead to a decline in the physical work capacity of the workers. Heat stress is manifested by a range of health conditions like milder heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion. These are linked to occupational health hazards depending on the nature of work that adversely affects productivity.

There are studies reporting heat stress where only temperature data are taken into consideration without considering the effects of humidity. The present study has however included humidity also as a key factor responsible for human discomfort and therefore integrated it into the research model to arrive at the heat stress index data.

"As the duration and intensity of hot days will increase in future, while assessing the severity of the situation in the two coastal regions of India (east and west coast), heat stress index over India needs utmost attention to analyze to arrive at conclusions on the future changes and their effect on productivity of the work force," said researchers K. Koteswara Rao, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune and T.V. Lakshmi Kumar, Atmospheric Science Research Laboratory, SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Tamil Nadia, India.

Researchers estimated that the impacts of the notorious change in climate would affect 250 million people living within the coastline area of the country. This is posing a big threat to the livelihood of the coastal communities due to the decline in their work performance as a result of the harsh environment. Researchers, therefore, suggested the policymakers to take actions for the protection of the workers from heat stress by preventing exposure to extreme heat in a working environment and reduce illnesses caused by heat stress. The result of the research showed that compared to the west coast, the east coast would be prone to more heat stress by 2100.  The research authors claimed that their work would facilitate policymakers to design better policy tools for taking necessary steps for the welfare of the working people and to protect them from increased heat stress under changing climate conditions.

(Source: India Science Wire release)