Our bodies can handle less heat than we thought

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Scientists from Radboud University Medical Center, among others, say the temperature threshold often used for human survival in extreme temperatures should be adjusted downward.

Especially for the elderly and especially older women, the limit will be much lower than previously assumed.

In a year where many heat records were not broken naturally and with temperatures rising as expected, it’s important to know what the human body can handle. The air temperature we use to indicate how warm it is outside is not a good indicator of this.

We should look closely at wet-bulb temperature, researchers say, because it also includes air humidity. But we should also reconsider our reading of this analogy. 35 degrees was long seen as the upper limit. However, things like age, gender, and body type are never included.

If you do, the upper limit should be lowered – especially for older people. Especially for older women. This has everything to do with maximum race capacity. The ability to cool the body in this way diminishes as we age and women actually do less.

Therefore the survival limit should be 0.9 to 13 degrees lower. Researchers also believe we should also set a limit to living. Because being able to live in a place or not is not only a matter of survival, but also of quality of life.

Read more about the research here: To survive in a warmer climate, what can the body tolerate?

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Megan Vasquez

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