[ RadSafe ] 2003 August Heat wave in France -- 15, 000 excess deaths according to French National Institute of Health and Medical Research

SAFarber at optonline.net SAFarber at optonline.net
Tue May 31 14:34:09 CDT 2011

How quickly we forget.

The heat wave mentioned briefly in posts today occurred in August 2005 and  
affected countries across Europe. It caused an estimated 15,000 excess  
deaths in France alone [with thousands more throughout Europe] due to many  
factors including:
1) A lack of air conditioning, especially for the elderly
2) The slow response of the French government/bureacracy in establishing  
centers for overheated elderly to gather, or to distribute fans since so  
many workers were on "holiday" during August and more.

See AP story below referencing a study by the French government's National  
Institute of Health and Medical Research [and this is not some Green-like  
activist group with a narrow agenda for or against electricity production]  
but an official French Agency roughly equivalent to our NIH:


  [text from above link is copied below].

France heat wave death toll set at 14,802 [DURING AUGUST 2003]
PARIS (AP) — The death toll in France from August's blistering heat wave  
has reached nearly 15,000, according to a government-commissioned report  
released Thursday, surpassing a prior tally by more than 3,000.
A funeral home worker in Saint-Maur-des-Fosses, southeast of Paris,  
prepares coffins for heat victims last month.

Scientists at INSERM, the National Institute of Health and Medical  
Research, deduced the toll by determining that France had experienced  
14,802 more deaths than expected for the month of August.

The toll exceeds the prior government count of 11,435, a figure that was  
based only on deaths in the first two weeks of the month.

The new estimate includes deaths from the second half of August, after the  
record-breaking temperatures of the first half of the month had abated.

The bulk of the victims — many of them elderly — died during the height of  
the heat wave, which brought suffocating temperatures of up to 104 degrees  
in a country where air conditioning is rare. Others apparently were  
greatly weakened during the peak temperatures but did not die until days  

The new estimate comes a day after the French Parliament released a  
harshly worded report blaming the deaths on a complex health system,  
widespread failure among agencies and health services to coordinate  
efforts, and chronically insufficient care for the elderly.

Two INSERM researchers who delivered the report were to continue their  
analysis of deaths to determine what the actual cause was for the spike in  
mortality, the Health Ministry said.

The researchers, Denis Hemon and Eric Jougla, were also to recommend ways  
of improving France's warnings system to better manage such heat-related  
crises in the future.

The heat wave swept across much of Europe, but the death toll was far  
higher in France than in any other country.

Health Minister Jean-Francois Mattei has ordered a separate special study  
this month to look into a possible link with vacation schedules after  
doctors strongly denied allegations their absence put the elderly in  
danger. The heat wave hit during the August vacation period, when doctors,  
hospital staff and many others take leave. The results of that study are  
expected in November.

The role of vacations is a touchy subject. The National General  
Practitioners Union says that only about 20% of general practitioners were  
away during the heat wave.

Other European countries hit by the heat have been slower than France to  
come out with death tolls, but it's clear they also suffered thousands of  

Environmental experts warn that because of climate change, such heat waves  
are expected to increase in number in coming years, meaning Europe — a  
continent that historically has enjoyed a temperate climate — will have to  
make adjustments.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material  
may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Stewart Farber, MS Public Health
Farber Medical Solutions, LLC
Bridgeport, CT 06604


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