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Study: Air conditioners have led to 'remarkable decline' in premature deaths in America


Cooling off in Port Dover, Ontario, August 2012 (courtesy: Earl Hartlen)
Cooling off in Port Dover, Ontario, August 2012 (courtesy: Earl Hartlen)

Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer

December 30, 2012 — A team of U.S.-based researchers found that air conditioners have significantly reduced the number premature deaths in the U.S.

The study found that up to 80% of premature deaths in the U.S. have been prevented by air conditioners
The study found that up to 80% of premature deaths in the U.S. have been prevented by air conditioners

In a recently-published study on climate change and adaptation, a team of U.S-based researchers discovered that up to 80% of premature deaths in the U.S. have been prevented by air conditioners (AC).

Researchers pored over mortality records, finding that 600 deaths occurred on days with temperatures exceeding 30°C between 1960 and 2004 -- a dramatic decrease from the 3,600 deaths that occurred between 1900-1959.

Interestingly, the study found that increased access to health care did not appear to affect mortality rates on hot days.

The findings could be a particularly useful tool for developing nations struggling to combat the effects of rising temperatures and drought.

"Residential AC appears to be ... the most promising technology to help poor countries mitigate the temperature related mortality impacts of climate change," the paper proclaims.

In December, the World Bank determined that nations in the Middle East will be particularly vulnerable to climate change in coming decades, resulting in declining rainfall, warmer temperatures and rising sea levels.

The study can be found online at the Social Science Research Network.

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