|ABSTRACT||The objective of this study is to assess and analyze the human bioclimatic conditions in Heraklion city, Crete Island, Greece and quantify the association between these conditions with daily counts of admissions for respiratory problems, during the study period January 1, 2008 to May 31, 2013. Crete Island is located in a climatic sensitive area affected by frequent Saharan dust episodes, specifically during late winter and spring, when favorable synoptic meteorological conditions appear. Furthermore, the geomorphology of the island and Föhn winds cause adverse bioclimatic conditions. The latter combined with the ambient air pollution in the urban environment cause a high risk in public health. The thermal environment is analyzed by means of the Physiologically Equivalent Temperature (PET) and Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI), which are two of the most popular human thermal indices based on the human energy balance.
Throughout the study period, 34350 emergency respiratory admissions have been recorded, and classified by gender. Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, emphysema, allergic rhinitis and decrease of lung function have been identified as respiratory disorders based on ICD-9 codes. Generalized Additive Models (GAM) have been applied to investigate the association of weekly counts of outpatients with cardiovascular admissions against bioclimatic conditions, after controlling for possible confounders and nonlinear variations. Air temperature, cloudiness and PET Index found to be statistically significant with all types of respiratory admissions. Our findings have given evidence that a negative correlation between hospital admission for respiratory diseases and cold weather exists and this association seems to be stronger in females (p<0.01). Also, both males and females are vulnerable to mean daily air temperature drop; namely, 1oC decrease in mean daily air temperature is associated with 2.8% increase in hospital admissions for respiratory problems and this impact appears up to 3 days later.|