There is a “heat island” effect in big cities, writes the Paìs. What it means. That asphalt and concrete absorb heat during the day and throw it back out at night, thus making the temperature much higher than in adjacent places where land and trees predominate.

So far nothing new, only that a study published in the journal Lancet just Feb. 1 that contains data from 93 European cities, where 57 million people over the age of 20 live, “estimates that about 6,700 premature deaths” are due precisely to the phenomenon of “heat islands,” and points out that a third of these same deaths could be avoided simply by planting trees in 30 percent of urban space.

However, the paper also explains that “it is important to differentiate mortality attributable to ‘heat waves,’ which can affect many more places, with that related to ‘heat islands,’ which are the effect of urban design” based on “asphalt, concrete and lack of vegetation that increase health risk on summer days, even in normal temperatures,” the researchers point out.

The research model provides a result of premature deaths related to rising temperatures in urban environments, which accounts for 4.3 percent of total mortality during the summer months (June to August) and 1.8 percent of mortality throughout the year. The authors in each case estimate that one-third of them (about 2,644 deaths) could have been avoided by increasing tree cover to 30 percent of urban space, which would reduce temperatures on average by almost half a degree, but in some places by as much as 1.5°C and perhaps even more.

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