Quantifying health risks from heat and air pollution (HEATCOST)

HEATCOST will quantify health risks attributable to heat and air pollution (with a particular focus on air pollution from wildfires) in main world regions under selected climate scenarios and socioeconomic pathways.


Start og sluttdato
1.1.2020 - 31.12.2023 (prosjektet er avsluttet)
Norges forskningsråd via Belmont Forum med Future Earth

HEATCOST quantifies global current and future changes in cardiopulmonary (CPD) mortality and morbidity due to extreme heat and air pollution (including from wildfires) under selected climate scenarios, while assessing a diverse set of adaptation mechanisms and strategies, and estimates the associated costs. Extreme heat increases the rates of death (mortality) and can exacerbate a range of diseases (morbidity). 

Increased risk of heart and lung diseases

In particular, heat increases mortality and morbidity for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases (CVD and RD), which together constitute cardiopulmonary diseases (CPD). The risk of wildland fires increases during periods of extreme heat and decreasing precipitation, and can cause intense air pollution. Synergistic effects of extreme heat and air pollution (O3 and PM2.5) on CPD outcomes have been identified. Complex interactions act to exacerbate the effects of extreme events on CPD outcomes.

Health risk varies

The health risk varies by region, population vulnerability, the built environment and other factors. Populations at highest risk include older adults, children, socially isolated individuals, and individuals with chronic diseases. Health effects due to heat and air pollution is largely preventable to the extent that adaptation measures can be tailored to alleviate contextual and individual vulnerability factors for vulnerable populations.

Advanced modelling

To assess future health risks, HEATCOST will review the rich literature on the exposure-response relationships between health effects and non-optimum temperature, including for EU, USA, and China, and establish exposure projections for extreme heat and air pollution based on updated and advanced modelling and downscaling efforts. HEATCOST includes a diverse set of adaptation mechanisms, calculates the associated economic and social costs and identifies effective strategies for minimizing adverse impacts. The results will be disseminated to the general public and to decision- and policy-makers.

Knowledge gaps

HEATCOST will address key knowledge gaps listed by the IPCC and the U.S Global Change Research Program (USGCRP):

  • published health risk projections do not adequately reflect the adaptation to a changing climate;
  • there is a lack of knowledge and appropriate models regarding possible interactive effects of extreme heat and air pollution;
  • the gap between the approach of global models and observational data for quantitative projections of the costs associated with heat, air pollution and health risks.


The research is co-designed with stakeholder partners engaged in development and implementation of adaptation measures. HEATCOST will increase synergies between teams across partner countries and stakeholder organizations, fostering a new climate and environmental health knowledge platform based on a transdisciplinary and end-user focused approach.

The project capitalizes on the H2020 project Exhaustion.eu. Heatcost is a project under the Belmont Forum’s Collaborative Research Action (CRA) on Climate, Environment and Health (CEH). Heatcost is also part of ENBEL, a consortium linking Belmont Forum projects, EU-funded and other relevant nationally funded projects on climate change and health. 

Project participants

Both research institutes and stakeholders are participating in the project:

  • The Finnish Meteorological Institute (Finland) 
  • The Rhodium Group (USA) 
  • Peking University 
  • Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre  
  • WHO/WMO Climate and Health Office


Chowdhury, S., R. Hänninen, M. Sofiev and K. Aunan (2024). "Fires as a source of annual ambient PM2.5 exposure and chronic health impacts in Europe." Science of The Total Environment 922.

Di Napoli, C., M. Romanello, K. Minor, J. Chambers, S. Dasgupta, L. E. Escobar, Y. Hang, R. Hänninen, Y. Liu, M. Lotto Batista, R. Lowe, K. A. Murray, F. Owfi, M. Rabbaniha, L. Shi, M. Sofiev, M. Tabatabaei and E. J. Z. Robinson (2023). "The role of global reanalyses in climate services for health: Insights from the Lancet Countdown." Meteorological Applications 30(2).

Hu, X., W. Han, Y. Wang, K. Aunan, X. Pan, J. Huang and G. Li (2022). "Does air pollution modify temperature-related mortality? A systematic review and meta-analysis." Environ Res 210: 112898.

Partanen, T. M. and M. Sofiev (2022). "Forecasting the regional fire radiative power for regularly ignited vegetation fires." Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 22(4): 1335-1346.

Schwingshackl, C., A. S. Daloz, C. Iles, K. Aunan and J. Sillmann (2024). "High-resolution projections of ambient heat for major European cities using different heat metrics." Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 24(1): 331-354.

Schwingshackl, C., J. Sillmann, A. M. Vicedo‐Cabrera, M. Sandstad and K. Aunan (2021). "Heat Stress Indicators in CMIP6: Estimating Future Trends and Exceedances of Impact‐Relevant Thresholds." Earth's Future 9(3).

Sillmann, J., K. Aunan, L. Emberson, P. Buker, B. Van Oort, C. O'Neill, N. Otero, D. Pandey and A. Brisebois (2021). "Combined impacts of climate and air pollution on human health and agricultural productivity." Environmental Research Letters 16(9).

Thorarinsdottir, T. L., J. Sillmann, M. Haugen, N. Gissibl and M. Sandstad (2020). "Evaluation of CMIP5 and CMIP6 simulations of historical surface air temperature extremes using proper evaluation methods." Environmental Research Letters 15(12): 124041.

Wang, Y., L. Lin, Z. Xu, L. Wang, J. Huang, M. Zhou and G. Li (2023). "Have residents adapted to heat wave and cold spell in the 21st century? Evidence from 136 Chinese cities." Environ Int 173: 107811.

Chowdhury, Marginean, Upadhyay, Aunan (2024). Impact of the changing climate on air pollution, heat stress and human health' - in "Health and Environmental Effects of Ambient Air Pollution" edited by Mohammad Hadi Dehghani, Rama Rao Karri, Salwa Kamal Hassan and Teresa Vera (c) Elsevier.