Climate Change

Rising wet-bulb temperatures due to climate change pose health risks for humans

A wet-bulb temperature of 35°C is considered the maximum limit of humidity humans can handle

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 17 August 2021

On July 1, 2021, Delhi experienced a heatwave, when the maximum temperature rose to 43.5 degrees Celsius. At the same time, Ganganagar, in west Rajasthan, reported India's highest temperature at 44.5°C.

Some pockets of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, north Rajasthan and west Uttar Pradesh still continue to face heat wave conditions.

This issue is now prevalent world over. But the world is not only getting hotter but also more 'wetter' or humid.

We usually consider the dry-bulb temperature to describe how hot or cold a place is. Scientists, however, have been stressing upon taking into account humidity and other factors to assess how weather conditions will affect human health and activity.

Humidity is measured as wet-bulb temperature. Factoring in the humidity along with the heat, called the heat index, helps us determine what the temperature actually ‘feels like’. 

Humidity combined with heat is deadlier for human health and wellbeing. Currently, one phenomenon is severely testing the human tolerance of this heat-humidity balance. Climate Change!

Humans with their sweat-based cooling system, have been well-designed to beat the heat. But there is a limit to the level of heat and humidity we can cope with. A wet-bulb temperature of 35°C is considered the maximum limit of humidity that humans can handle. Beyond this, the body can no longer effectively cool itself via perspiration.

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