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Heat-Related Illness

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worker under heat stress

Heat-related illnesses are preventable.  Heat stress is brought on by prolonged overexposure to heat and the sun, causing heat exhaustion or life-threatening heat stroke, and/or exacerbating pre-existing conditions.  In a review of deaths from 1979 to 2003, extreme heat killed more people than hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and lightning combined. As climate change progresses, which has already brought record-breaking heat to many parts of the US, deaths from heat stress are projected to grow substantially. The 2016 Climate and Health Assessment summary notes that “people working outdoors, the socially isolated and economically disadvantaged, those with chronic illnesses, as well as some communities of color, are especially vulnerable to death or illness” due to heat stress. Many agricultural workers, construction workers, truck drivers, and day laborers with whom we work fall into several of these categories, which demonstrates their compounded susceptibility to heat stress. Whether in the midst of migration, at work, or at home, migrant populations are at a higher risk for this preventable but sometimes fatal condition.


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