Centre for Atmospheric Sciences, IIT Delhi developing India-specific heat stress tolerance thresholds

Centre for Atmospheric Sciences, IIT Delhi developing India-specific heat stress tolerance thresholds

Heat stress is stress felt by the body when exposed to heat in the summer. It is expected to increase due to global warming. The Centre for Atmospheric Sciences (CAS), IIT Delhi is conducting a study to develop India-specific heat stress tolerance thresholds.

This study is part of a project "Heat Stress Index for India: projection for near future (HIIPROF)" undertaken by IIT Delhi, in partnership with 5 other institutes of India, and funded by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Govt of India under “Climate Change and Human Health Program.” The partner institutes in this project include IIT Kanpur, IISER Bhopal, RKMVU Kolkata, SRU Chennai, and IIPH Gandhinagar. The project will help in formulating a better and efficient heat management plan across the country.

One of the major components of this study is a population-based survey through which data about the people’s perception of heat exposure along with direct measurement of stress condition and thermal imaging of human physiology under heat stress is being collected. A person can participate in the survey by downloading an android app ‘Heat Stress Survey’ from Google Play Store or through the website www.heatstressindia.in. A person residing in any part of the country can participate in this survey while ensuring that their mobile’s GPS location is on so that their city can be located. One can submit their responses everyday till July 15, 2019.

Speaking about the study, Prof. Sagnik Dey from CAS, IIT Delhi, who is also project’s Principal Investigator, said, “Heat stress condition is the environmental condition when body starts feeling stress out of its normal ability to balance the body temperature. The ability to exchange heat with the surrounding depends not only on temperature but also on humidity, wind, and types of clothing, activity, and physical structure. Under searing heat, human body struggles and beyond a threshold stress condition, they cannot tolerate anymore and can suffer heat stroke. Since India has diverse climatic conditions, it is important to define the thresholds of stress in different parts of the country. This will help the Govt to formulate appropriate heat management plan, especially when heat condition is expected to worsen in India under global warming.” He added, “Even if the heat stroke is avoided, the stress can cause issues like headache, cell damage, renal failure, fatigue, neurological problems, and kidney stones.”