Heat and health – Summer 2019

How to calculate the heat index-which is a combination of temperature and relative humidity


if you live in the southwest or other areas where humidity is not high then you may not hear heat index much reported in the media

here is one reference to the Saudi heat index world record of 178


what is crucial is that the most densely populated areas of the US and other areas are getting much wetter rapidly

The last 12 months have broken all recorded total rain records throughout the Midwest and in parts of New England/East Coast

It is predicted that all 5 Great Lakes will reach record high levels either this year or next

Sunny day flooding is rapidly increasing all along the east coast.

Therefore relative humidity is rising

When this is combined with higher temperatures heat wave deaths increase dramatically

One way to increase our unity and solidarity with the working class, including worker centers, progressive union caucuses, etc. among agricultural, construction, energy, manufacturing, sweatshop and other workers is to get to know them and talk about the rapidly increasing dangers to them of working outside and increasing heat deaths-most of which are not reported as heat related deaths

FYI-the true calculation of heat related deaths was originated by Steve Whitman, Ph.D. a Marxist, who was the Chief Epidemiologist of the Chicago Department of Health in 1995

He did it by reviewing the average/mean, median and range of all deaths during the same 4 days in July going back decades with death statistics

He then found that in those 4 days, July 13-17, 1995, there were 739 Excess deaths compared to all other previous years

This method of calculating excess deaths is now used everywhere by legitimate epidemiologists all over the US and the world including the WHO

Comrade/Brother Steve was also the first person to calculate deaths based on race for heat related deaths

Steve has passed on to the next world but his spirit and work remain an inspiration to us all

There are no federal laws or OSHA rules covering extreme heat-only OSHA guidelines and recommendations which have been watered down under both the present and past federal administrations


Base-building/organizing needs to go on with all outdoor workers to demand protection including not working in the sun or outdoors more than 2 hours at a time and increasing shading and many other demands

One key issue is to STOP most new building, road construction, etc all of which are parts of the economy that need to rapidly decrease if everything alive on Mother Earth has a chance to survive-most of which is for unaffordable, energy hog houses, apartments and more high rises for the capitalists

Stopping almost all new road construction is one reason why electric cars are a false solution as they give the capitalists another reason to keep using 95%+ of transportation $$ to build roads and wrongly fix old ones

We need to audit and retrofit all existing buildings which involves much less outside work

Please see page 4 of this new Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) fact sheet (attached)

Construction workers=1/3rd=33% of all occupational heat related deaths

Farmworkers and other outdoor forestry, etc workers=20% of all deaths with

 Latinos being the most affected racial group of workers

While the fact sheet is pretty good it does not mention that many large manufacturers in the US also lack A/C

Yes, there are still Steel Mills in Gary and other places and other examples of millions of workers who work inside in heat producing factories as well as literally and figuratively-“sweat shops”

And the beat goes on!

Howard Ehrman MD, MPH

University of Illinois Chicago
Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
School of Public Health

On Jul 18, 2019, at 10:19, Phil Gasper <phil.gasper@gmail.com> wrote:

It is true.

The world’s highest recorded heat index stands at 178, set at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on July 8, 2003, with a temperature of 108 and a dew point of 95.

On Thu, Jul 18, 2019 at 10:08 AM Tom Athanasiou <toma@ecoequity.org> wrote:

178 in Saudi? 

That can’t be true.

Tom A

On Wed, Jul 17, 2019 at 8:25 PM Ehrman, Howard <hehrman@uic.edu> wrote:

Dear David and Friends,

Thanks David for this report-it is worth reading and 

then increasing our organizing and direct action

In the next 48-72 hours the heat index in Chicago may rise to 115, the record here being 125 during the 4 days when 739 people died-the worst heat wave in less than a week in the history of the U.S. (1995)

World record 178 Saudi Arabia

Best heat index app is OSHA heat index tool-excellent for all workers and everyone else


Chicago is one of the worst heat island cities in the country due to lack of green space and predominance of concrete, brick, asphalt, traffic, etc.

Those that live within a few miles of the lake often get some relief, but if the winds are blowing from the west and the heat does not go below 80 at night and humidity is 80 or above (heat dome like 1995), people die

People who have not been here in the middle of the summer may not realize we have the most extreme temperatures/humidity of any city in the US 

It was 40 below during the polar vortex this year and the heat index may reach 115 or more in the next few days

All of Chicago was wetlands or swamps and rivers so humidity is high even in the winter (outdoors)

The ever increasing climate disasters scenarios we are experiencing daily around the world call for ecosocialists to collectively develop a dual power strategy 

We need to do daily basebuiding where we live, work, go to school, play and pray to prepare and respond to heat waves (by far the #1 climate change killer) floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes understanding that people of color and low income urban and rural communities are at a much higher risk (the death ratio of African Americans to whites in 1995 was 1.8 to 1)

As we build local organizations and coalitions we must demand every local of government do much more mitigation, adaptation, reparations

This includes NVDA to open all public air conditioned buildings 24/7, retrofit all buildings, solar on roofs, school/community gardens, zero emission, high quality public housing controlled by tenant unions, take over land for housing, vegetable gardens and community solar co-ops, etc as we build the power to defeat the state