Start of main contentBack to page: Health and Quality of Life
A number of measures can prevent and eliminate the effects of heat and heat islands.
An urban heat island refers to an area of the city where temperatures are hotter than adjacent rural or forested areas. Data shows that urban centers can be up to 12oC hotter than their surroundings.
Temperatures in heat islands vary on a daily and seasonal basis. They are influenced by both natural factors, such as wind and humidity, and human activity (for example, heat generated by industry or car engines). Heat islands affect not only the environment but also human health.
For several decades, areas of extreme heat have been appearing in the suburbs due to urban sprawl and the loss of plant cover due to commercial expansion.
This interactive map from Ministère de la Sécurité publique (in French) shows heat islands and cool zones in Québec’s urban areas. Find out whether you live in a heat island!
There have been numerous initiatives to create cool zones and green roofs, lanes, public parking lots, and school yards. These projects are often carried out in disadvantaged neighborhoods, leading to greater social cohesion and enhanced living environments, which in turn leads to improved health and quality of life for residents.
Map of projects that have reduced the impacts of climate change on health (in French). This map shows projects conducted in various communities to reduce heat islands. Whether in school yards, daycare centers, or parking lots, people have come up with a wide array of ingenious solutions!
Literature review on measures to fight against heat islands (PDF) INSPQ has prepared a document (in French) presenting various ways you can make your living environment cooler. Don’t have enough room to plant trees? There are lots of other options available.
Heat islands to cool zones (PDF). An information sheet (in French) by Nature Québec explains the concept of heat islands and lists ways to create cool zones in urban areas.
ILEAU initiative to fight against heat islands (in French) This initiative, launched by Montréal’s regional environmental council (CRE Montréal), is another step toward eliminating heat islands.
Consultations on current monitoring of zoonotic diseases in Québec (PDF). A report (in French) prepared in collaboration with Université de Montréal presents the results of consultations on current monitoring of zoonotic diseases in Québec and its adequacy in light of expected climate and ecological change by 2020.
Québec’s multipartite observatory on vector-borne and zoonotic diseases . Institut national de santé publique set up this observatory to advise its experts on vector-borne diseases and adaptation to climate change
Scientists tell us that heat waves will very likely occur more frequently and last longer as a direct result of climate change. For most of us, heat waves are simply uncomfortable, but they can have serious consequences for the most vulnerable members of the community.
On a very hot day, body temperatures can increase to an abnormally high level. In babies, young children, seniors, and people who are ill, heat stress may be a health hazard that in some cases can even lead to death.
To intervene quickly and effectively during heat waves, the Québec government has set up a monitoring and surveillance system targeting the most vulnerable members of the population. It consists of a system of telephone advisories and a personalized automated online service that can literally save lives!
Monitoring of the health effects of extreme heat waves in Québec. Report on summer 2010. In July 2010 several regions in Québec were hit by a heat wave. This report (in French) summarizes the main monitoring results and the heat wave’s health impacts.
SUPREME, a real-time, extreme weather event monitoring and warning system (PDF) (in French). When an episode of oppressive or extreme heat is anticipated, the SUPREME system sends a warning to staff in the health and social services network who subscribe to the service. The warnings, sent by email or text message, help public health authorities take preventive action and implement measures to protect the public’s health in a timely manner.
Research projects on the psychosocial impacts of natural hazards and how to prevent them. The objective is to better support members of the public following extreme weather events such as floods and landslides.
Directory of tools for monitoring the psychosocial impacts of climatic hazards. A directory (in French) is available that lists psychosocial measurement tools for monitoring psychosocial and health impacts of climatic hazards on the population.
Feasibility of monitoring the psychosocial impacts of climatic hazards (PDF). A report (in French) provides a critical analysis of approximately 100 scientific articles on the psychosocial impacts of various climatic hazards and describes factors that influence the relationship between these hazards and their consequences.