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Despite high mortality and morbidity rates in the winter season, few studies have investigated the health effects from working in moderately cold environments, especially among vulnerable outdoor worker populations in the southeastern US. Yet recent research has shown that the mortality risk from cold events is greatest in southern cities compared to other US locations. We performed repeated personal cold exposure measurements in outdoor grounds management workers in the southeastern US using consumer-based sensors. We recruited outdoor workers from two locations (Raleigh, NC and Boone, NC) each characterized by climatological differences in cold temperature to participate in a 3-week data collection period at the peak of the winter (Jan/Feb 2018). Lower personal ambient temperatures were observed among participants who worked in a warmer climate (Raleigh, NC). The relative risk for cold symptomatology was higher in moderately cold personal ambient temperatures (0 °C to 20 °C) than extremely cold personal ambient temperatures (less than 0 °C). A weak significant relationship was observed between personal ambient temperatures and weather station measurements highlighting that epidemiological researchers should be cautious when investigating the health effects of ambient temperatures based on fixed site measurements. As mobile technology progresses, real-time temperature health monitoring and analysis of environmental conditions at the individual level across multiple occupational-settings will become more feasible and ultimately, we believe, a digitally enhanced workforce will become standard practice in the field.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Environmental research
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An absence of warmth or heat or a temperature notably below an accustomed norm.
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A climate characterized by COLD TEMPERATURE for a majority of the time during the year.
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