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Harvard Study: Students Can't Think Straight During a Heat Wave

YijunW CA, United States 0 Ratings 134 Discussions 0 Group posts

Posted by: YijunW

Harvard Study: Students Can't Think Straight During a Heat Wave

Heat waves have devastating consequences for public health globally. Buildings can heighten temperature exposures during heat waves by maintaining high indoor temperatures overnight even when high surrounding temperatures have fallen. Adults in the United States spend upwards of 90% of their time indoors (PLOS).

A Harvard study led by researcher Jose Laurent* published on July 10, 2018, found that there is a statistically significant increase in reaction time and reduction in productivity during heatwaves among non-AC students relative to AC students (PLOS).

The study compared 44 students with an average age of 20.2 from a university living in AC (n = 24) and non-AC (n = 20) buildings before, during, and after a heatwave for 12 days (July 9–July 20, 2016) in the Greater Boston area, Massachusetts, United States (PLOS).

The students were asked to finish two tests on their smartphones right after waking up each day. The results noted that during the heat wave students without air conditioning experienced decreases across five measures of cognitive function. The students in the non-AC dorm had 13.4 percent longer reaction times on a test where they were asked to correctly identify the color of displayed words compared to students in the AC dorm. They also had a 13.3 percent lower scores on arithmetic problems (Martin Finucane).

The findings accentuate the importance of consolidating sustainable adaptation measures in buildings to preserve educational performance, work productivity, and human health (PLOS). One response might seem to be, "Students can't think straight during a heatwave! We need air-conditioners in the student dorms..." But how to meet health and cognitive concerns sustainably? That is a key question.

*Researchers Jose Guillermo Cedeño Laurent, Augusta Williams, Youssef Oulhote, Antonella Zanobetti, Joseph G. Allen, and John D. Spengler
from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health published their study "Reduced cognitive function during a heat wave among residents of non-air-conditioned buildings: An observational study of young adults in the summer of 2016" in the journal PLOS Medicine (PLOS).

To read more, please visit:
PLOS
http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002605
Bostonglobe
https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/07/10/harvard-study-finds-that-during-heat-waves-people-can-think-straight/WIVBzXPuiB0vVfm6DkVBcJ/story.html?event=event25

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