|dc.description.abstract||The warming of our planet is unevenly distributed. In inherently hot and hyper-arid countries like Kuwait, temperatures are already soaring to unprecedented record-high levels and not a lot is known about what climate change could mean for populations in similar regions. While population health data from this region is lacking, climate change may push the limits of human adaptability as temperatures get hotter and hotter. Additionally, because of its desert climate, we also see dramatic dust storms very frequently in Kuwait to the point that the small country now ranks among the top countries in the world in terms of annual dust deposition rates.
This dissertation generates critical information for local authorities in Kuwait and other similar hyper-arid hot regions that can guide many decisions on dust storms and climate change response by identifying and quantifying major sources of particulate pollution and exploring vulnerabilities to climate change from this part of the world.
In the first paper, a comprehensive particulate pollution analysis was carried out in Kuwait. We found that regional pollution was a major contributor to fine particulate matter levels, followed by dust storms and resuspended road dust. We showed that, independent of dust storms, the sizeable regional anthropogenic particulate sources warrant national and regional mitigation strategies to ensure compliance with air quality standards.
In the second paper, we showed that by 2060, the average temperature in Kuwait is predicted to increase by 1.80°C (moderate climate change scenario) to 2.57°C (extreme climate change scenario), compared to the first decade of this century (2000-2009). Climate change induced warming, even under more optimistic mitigation scenarios, will markedly increase heat related mortality in Kuwait. Those who are already vulnerable, like migrant workers, could borne a larger impact from climate change.
Across all borders, climate change, however, cannot be solely examined in one country. Global mortality burden, in general, is significantly driven by cardiovascular disease. It is the leading cause of death. Despite the abundance of historical mortality-specific data, we still do not know how ambient temperatures in many regions in the world (including inherently hot regions) affect specific causes of cardiovascular deaths.
This dissertation examines the relationship between extreme temperatures and specific causes of cardiovascular death such as ischemic heart disease, stroke, heart failure and arrythmia, using the largest ever assembled global dataset from 27 countries and 567 cities that include tens of millions of cardiovascular deaths with a wide geographical coverage and a range of climates.
In the third paper, we show that extreme heat and cold temperatures were associated with increased risk of dying from any cardiovascular cause, ischemic heart disease, stroke and heart failure. We estimate that for every 1,000 cardiovascular deaths, 2 and 9 excess deaths are attributed to extreme hot and cold days, respectively. Across that large, multinational sample, our results warrant public health and clinical attention in the present day and under a changing climate.||