US Heat-Related Deaths Disproportionately Affect Non-Citizens Interview with:
“Wood for Heat” by Alternative Heat is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Ethel V. Taylor, DVM, MPH
Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects
National Center for Environmental Health,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, GA What is the background for this study?

Response: CDC sought to identify and measure whether or not differences exist for deaths associated with extreme heat among non-citizens, who had been identified by previous studies as higher risk due to occupation.

CDC compared heat-related deaths among non-US and US citizens from 2005-2014. Heat-related deaths accounted for 2.4% of all deaths among non-U.S. citizens (n=999) compared to 0.02% of U.S. citizens (n=4196). What are the main findings?

  • Twenty percent of heat-related deaths in the United States from 2005-2014 happened among non-US citizens.
  • Non-citizens ages 18-24 were 20 times as likely to die from heat exposure compared to US citizens ages 18-24.
  • Eighty seven percent of deaths in non-US citizens occurred among Hispanics, vs. 14.5% of deaths of US citizens.
  • Twenty percent of heat-related deaths among non-US citizens reported farm as the location or place of excessive heat exposure. No occupational information was available to further explain the circumstance of death.
  • Three states (AZ, CA and TX) accounted for 94.5% of non-citizen heat deaths. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response:  States where heat deaths are commonly occurring among non-US citizens should consider tailoring heat prevention messages and interventions toward this high-risk community in addition to existing activities for other high-risk groups. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response:  A limitation of the study is that we did not have information about occupation from the National Vital Statistics System mortality dataset, preventing us from studying or otherwise accounting for the role of this factor for which we did not have data. Therefore, additional studies regarding the circumstances of these non-U.S. citizen deaths can better elucidate risk factors and inform more targeted interventions. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: We do not know why heat deaths are happening so much in non-citizens. Based on this study, we know heat-related deaths in non-citizens are different from what we have previously seen in U.S. citizens, but we do not have enough information to conclude whether differences in health, lifestyle, occupation, cultural behaviors or other, currently unidentified risk factors play a role. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Am J Public Health. 2017 Oct 26:e1-e6. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2017.304006. [Epub ahead of print]

Differences in Heat-Related Mortality by Citizenship Status: United States, 2005-2014.

Taylor EV1, Vaidyanathan A1, Flanders WD1, Murphy M1, Spencer M1, Noe RS1.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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