Health effects of extreme heat on asthma

Research Team

Meredith McCormack (Principal Investigator)
Associate Professor, Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, School of Medicine

Roger Peng
Associate Professor, Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health

Darryn Waugh
Professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences

Patrick Breysse
Formerly Professor, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health

As extreme heat becomes more frequent and intense, protecting those at greatest risk – including the poor, children, and the elderly – from fatalities and health complications from heat exposure grows as a public health concern. Researchers Meredith McCormack, Roger Peng, Darryn Waugh, and Patrick Breysse have been examining heat-related health effects on Baltimore’s inner-city minority children with asthma, a vulnerable population to extreme heat. The study aims to:

  1. Determine the effect of individual exposure to extreme heat on asthma morbidity among minority children with asthma living in inner-city Baltimore.
  2. Determine the interactive effect between extreme heat and air pollutant exposure on asthma health outcomes among children with asthma living in inner-city Baltimore.
  3. Estimate the relationship between ambient and personal temperature exposure and to identify factors that explain the variability between these two exposure metrics. 
They also hope findings on trends and characteristics of extreme heat and asthma can help public health leaders implement mitigation strategies to protect vulnerable populations. 


McCormack MC, Belli AJ, Waugh D, Matsui EC, Peng RD, Williams D, Paulin L, Saha A, Aloe CM, Diette GB, Breysse PN, Hansel NN. (Dec 2016.) "Respiratory Effects of Indoor Heat and the Interaction with Air Pollution in COPD." Annals of the American Thoracic Society, 13:2

McCormack MC,, Belli AJ, Saha A, Diette GB, Williams DL, Matsui EC, Peng RD, Breysse PN, Hansel NN. (2014). "Indoor And Outdoor Heat Exposure Is Associated With Increased COPD Morbidity" (meeting abstract). Annals of the American Thoracic Society.   

Dr. Patrick Breysse (left) and colleague visit homes of astmatic children as part of his research.
Photo credit: Christopher Myers (Johns Hopkins Public Health Magazine).

We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
— Albert Einstein