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Health Impact in New York City During the Northeastern Blackout of 2003
Shao Lin, Barbara A. Fletcher, Ming Luo, Robert Chinery and Syni-An Hwang
Public Health Reports (1974-)
Vol. 126, No. 3 (MAY/JUNE 2011), pp. 384-393
Published by: Association of Schools of Public Health
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41639375
Page Count: 10
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Objective. This study assessed the health effects of the 2003 Northeastern blackout the largest one in history, on mortality and hospital admissions due to respiratory, cardiovascular, and renal diseases in New York City (NYC), and compared the disease patterns and sociodemographic profiles of cases during the blackout with those on control days. Method. We investigated the effects of the blackout on health using incidence rate ratios to compare the disease on blackout days (August 14 and 15, 2003) with those on normal and comparably hot days (controls). Normal days were defined as summer days (June-August) between the 25th and 75th percentiles of maximum temperature during 1991-2004. Comparably hot days were days with maximum temperatures in the same range as that of the blackout days. We evaluated the interactive effects of demographics and the blackout using a case-only design. Results. We found that mortality and respiratory hospital admissions in NYC increased significantly (two- to eightfold) during the blackout, but cardiovascular and renal hospitalizations did not. The most striking increases occurred among elderly, female, and chronic bronchitis admissions. We identified stronger effects during the blackout than on comparably hot days. In contrast to the pattern observed for comparably hot days, higher socioeconomic status groups were more. likely to be hospitalized during the blackout. Conclusions. This study suggests that power outages may have important health impacts, even stronger than the effects of heat alone. The findings provide some direction for future emergency planning and public health preparedness.
Public Health Reports (1974-) © 2011 Association of Schools of Public Health