France estimates up to 35,000 summer heat deaths since 2014

AFP - [email protected]
France estimates up to 35,000 summer heat deaths since 2014
A pharmacy sign displaying the temperature of 44C during July 2022 in Nantes, France amid a heatwave (Photo by Loic VENANCE / AFP)

Between 30,000 and 35,000 people have died from the effects of summer heat in France since 2014, the country's public health agency said in an estimate released on Friday.


Although heat deaths are often associated with the elderly, "a significant proportion -- one-third -- were of people aged under 75," Sante Publique France (SPF) found in a study.


France has seen more frequent heatwaves in recent years, especially in 2019 and 2022, as the effects of climate change make the phenomena more frequent -- without it being possibly to directly attribute any individual episode to global warming.

Last year alone, SPF tallied 3,000 excess deaths during three separate heatwaves.

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But its latest study covers all summer heat periods, rather than just the highest peaks.

"Exposure for the general population on hot days outside heatwaves... is often seen as presenting no health dangers, when in fact it is also associated with increased risk of death," the authors wrote.

Taking such fatalities into account, the figure for summer heat deaths was between 29,612 and 34,975 in 2014-22 -- three times higher than the number for heatwaves alone over the same period.

SPF used complex models to arrive at its figures, with inputs including temperature and death rate fluctuations but also attempting to factor out other causes such as the Covid-19 pandemic.


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